WARANGAL: Encroachment has been one of the main reasons for forest loss for a long time. The best example is Warangal Rural district, which has just six per cent forest cover, of which a major chunk is under encroachment.
According to District Forest Officer K Purushotham, the district has a total forest area of 15,113.94 hectares, of which 5,516.88 hectares is under encroachment. The encroachment is increasing every passing year.Interestingly, of the total forest area, Pakal alone has 12,231.41 hectares.
The forest officials who are already dealing with a Herculean task of transforming the six per cent forest cover to 33 per cent, are forced to deal with encroachers too.
In fact, in many cases the government itself uses forest land for various projects making it difficult for forest officials to protect them. The district forest officials recently organised a stakeholder consultation as part of preparing First Decade document - Telangana 2024 initiative - to take suggestions from them to improve forest coverage.
Major threat to forest
Conservator of Forests, Warangal region, MJ Akbar said land encroachment is a major threat to forests.
“Despite stringent laws, forest land encroachment is going unabated. This has to stop. Any amount of afforestation would be a futile until people stop encroaching forest lands,” he said adding that the situation in Warangal Rural district is alarming as a major chunk of forest lands are under encroachment.
“Stakeholders should also take initiative to stop encroachment. We are doing our job. People should also educate encroachers on the disadvantages of losing forest,” he said.