Chennai, May 25 (IANS) Nilgiris, the hill district in Tamil Nadu, is a much sought after vacation site in the state with tourists visiting in large numbers from across the globe. Udhagamandalam or Ooty is a major tourist spot in this district and the state forest department is in the process of increasing its green cover.
The government, according to Forest Minister K. Ramachandran is keen on increasing the forest cover of the district by 33 per cent. The minister has directed all department heads in the district to submit a list of vacant land in their custody before June 10.
The forest cover in the Nilgiris, according to the forest department, is presently 23 per cent of which 20.27 per cent is a protected area that includes five national parks, 29 wildlife sanctuaries, and two conservation reserves. The balance of 3.6 per cent is tree cover outside the forest area, as per the state forest department.
Speaking to IANS, Ramachandran said, 'We have directed all the government departments in the districts to provide details of vacant lands under their custody by June 10 and once we get the details, we will commence planting saplings in these vacant lands.'
The department is focusing on the Nilgiris as a model district and the afforestation drive will improve oxygen levels and help in the conservation of groundwater.
The district administration has also pitched in for the afforestation drive, and invasive species that are grown outside the forests will be removed by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). This is done to plant native shola tree saplings for increasing the green cover. The DRDA is conducting a survey on the invasive species that are present outside the forest area.
The Department of Forest is also planning to plant native trees alongside fences where spaces are available in Nanjanad, Thummanatty villages, and in Sims park, Coonor.
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