Connect with us

Environment

Save Trees: Blatant tree spiking still continues in Shimla, departments back to sleep

Published

on

SHIMLA-What makes Himachal special on world map? Its ecological prosperity, diversity, and the Himalayan landscapes covered with greenery that attracts tourists, travelers, and adventure sport lovers from all over the world. The capital Shimla, once imperial summer capital, used to be the crown of Himachal, and is still one of the most visited hill stations. But neither its people nor the government ever made serious efforts to preserve it ecological treasure.

Charabbra-Shimla

Tree spiking – practice of wrapping around metal wires, hammering iron rod and nails into trees- is one of the most harmful practices against trees in Shimla and most of Himachal’s urban areas.

An HW Community member has shared fresh pictures of some trees near Charabra, Shimla, showing metal wires wrapped around tree trunk. Some others were stabbed with nails. None of it was serving any purpose. It again revived memories of our earlier efforts to get these trees rid of unwanted, harmful wires and nails.

Save-Tress

In 2011 and 2012, Himchal Watcher had brought the issue to the notice of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and Shimla Municipal Corporation. We had sent pictures to SMC asking them to take action against those who are using trees to hammer their banners/hoardings.

Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board was leading offenders with its metal stay-wires wrapped around full grown trees. A huge number of trees, especially in Shimla town, are inflicted with this bad practice. On our repeated complaints, many of these wires were removed.

save-trees-near-summer-hill-ground-railway-station-sumerhill

We had real tough time with thick-skinned government officials. It’s a hell of task to make them act, to actually make them commit to their job they have been entrusted upon. Initially, we believed the administration didn’t have this matter in its attention, and that after our complaints to save trees in Shimla, officials will wake up. Sadly, the departments stopped removing unwanted wires and nails as soon as our focus shifted to other issues. Now, in 2016, we are again writing to administration and to the people as a reminder toward their duty to protect every tree because its precious.

Trees

People are less aware that this practice damages tree trunks. The metal wires wrapped around trees keep penetrating deeper into the trunk because with the passage of time, tree-trunk diameter increases but that of the wire remains constant. The nails and iron rods can leave tree-trunk vulnerable to parasitic infections, just like human skin. At some stage, these wires/nails are completely overlapped by tree-trunk layers. At that stage, it’s almost impossible to notice or remove them.

In long term, these factors do influence tree growth and caste ill effects on its anatomy – a critical environmental issue that does count.

What’s more saddening is that it’s a very common practice for people in towns of Himachal to use trees as another object. Along with growing man-animal conflict, man-tree conflict is also on rise in ever expending urbanized culture. save-trees-hpseb

A great share goes to Himachal’s extremely lethargic and vision-less bureaucracy under the command equally worthless ministers and various boards. None of them never bothered to create awareness among people or discourage this malpractice. Can you believe that most of Himachal’s boards had not even utilized 50% of the funds allotted to them for the financial year 2014-15 until March 2016. Fearing lapse of funds, the boards spent the funds in haste to show utilization. So, the government department did have money, but they just didn’t bothered to utilize them on any sort of constructive policy including water schemes.

BSNL Kali Bari Shimla

Controller Auditor General’s (CAG) report made shocking revelations about Himachal Pradesh Government’s absurd and embarrassing deeds, like taking loan to payback the interest on previous loans and that Himachal is under a gigantic debt of over Rs. 38,000 crore because of blatant corruption and poor utilization of loans government had been receiving for development projects. The ministers hiked their salary twice in two years, hiked their pension, and extracting money from the pocket of public for their luxuries.

Oak over Shimla

save-trees-shimla
.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Environment

Himachal: Report Forest Fires on Toll-Free Numbers 1077 and 1070

Published

on

helpline for Forest Fires in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Forest fire is a recurrent annual phenomenon in Himachal Pradesh and causes losses worth several crores every year. Dry spell and summers make forests, especially chir pine forests, highly vulnerable to forest fires. These forest fires not only damage the forest wealth but also hit wildlife and biodiversity in general. The forest department attributes most fires to human factors.

Like every year, the forest department has claimed that it is all geared up and ready to combat forest fires this year too. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr. Savita on Monday held a virtual review meeting with Forest Circles on preparedness for forest fires in the state.

She said that the Forest department was well prepared to fight the forest fires and a rapid forest fire fighting force and rapid response teams had been set up at forest division and range levels.

“Approximately 40,000 man-days of fire watchers would be engaged by the department in addition to existing frontline staff for preventing and combating forest fires,” she said. The state disaster control room with toll-free number 1077 at the state level and 1070 at the district level were operational for reporting of the forest fire by the local community, she informed.

Dr. Savita said messages regarding forest fire had been shared with the members of the rapid forest fire fighting force, in which approximately 50,000 volunteers had already been registered. Awareness to the community was also conducted through Nukkar Nataks, songs, speeches and other activities at different locations in the state. Besides, a massive state-level awareness program was also conducted at 45 places from 10 to 17 March 2021

She said that the department had created forest fire lines and did control burning and also constructed water storage structures in the forest areas to combat forest fires. Additional multi-utility vehicles and water loaded tankers in 80 fire-sensitive ranges had been engaged for three months. She that matter regarding Standard Operating Systems (SOPs) for requisition of helicopter services for dousing the forest fires had been sent to the Government for approval. 

Feature Photo: Unsplash@Thematthoward

Continue Reading

Environment

Himachal Counts 108,578 Waterbirds of 96 Species This Year With Increase in Habitat

Published

on

Annual Bird Count in Himachal Pradesh 2021

Shimla-The habitat of migratory and resident water-birds in Himachal Pradesh has gradually improved, said Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania.

The annual water-bird count at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was conducted in the first of February, 2021 and the exercise was conducted under restrained conditions due to the prevailing Avian Influenza outbreak in Pong Dam Lake as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic, he said.

The exercise was conducted by Wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh by deploying 57 staff members in 26 sections of the sanctuary for counting the water-dependent birds.

Total 108,578 birds of 96 species were counted during this year. Out of the total number, 101,431 of 51 species are water-dependent migratory birds and 6,433 of 29 species are water-dependent resident birds. As many as 714 birds of 16 other species were also recorded. The total population of the flagship species, Bar-Headed Geese, is 40,570.

The other species which have higher population count during this year are Eurasian Coot (24,163), Northern Pintail (12,702), Common Teal (8,444), Little Cormorant (3,649), Great Cormorant (3,410), Grey Lag Goose (2,297), Northern Shoveler (2,275) and Common Pochard (2,138). The species which find noticeable mention are Red Necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Lesser White-Fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon etc. During the counting exercise, one Bar-headed Goose and one Grey Lag Goose with collars were also spotted.

This year the Annual bird count exercise assumes significance, considering the Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary. Further, the Minister expressed satisfaction over the timely and effective containment measures taken by Wildlife Wing to control and contain Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary.

PCCF (Wildlife) Archana Sharma and CCF Wildlife (North) Dharamshala Upasana Patial also participated and supervised the Annual Water Bird Count.

The total population of birds, as well as number of species, counted this year are marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of Avian Influenza outbreak which was first reported on 28th December 2020.

Although the total population of water birds declined during the peak of the Avian Influenza outbreak, there is a gradual increase in the total population of birds, the Minister informed.

Continue Reading

Environment

Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey

Published

on

Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.

The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.

It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 sq.km., with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.

This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112 sq.km., utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.

Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.

The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.

Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.

Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.

Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller

Continue Reading

Trending