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Forests in Tamil Nadu are being managed with the following main objectives:

  • Biodiversity and genetic resource conservation by protection of forests and wildlife.
  • Augmentation of water resources in forest areas.
  • Rehabilitation and restoration of degraded forests for improvement of forest cover.
  • Enhancing tree cover outside forests for livelihood security and climate change mitigation.
  • Welfare of Tribal and Forest fringe villagers to ensure economic prosperity and ecological stability.
Ecological stabilisation, protection of forests, wildlife conservation, conserving genetic resources and eco-systems and maintenance of all natural forests enhancing forest productivity and enrichment of the forests’ water resources and also increasing the forest and tree cover in the State constitute the main components of the State’s Forest Policy. The various strategies that will be followed for implementing this policy are discussed below.
INCREASING GREEN COVER OUTSIDE FORESTS
 To increase the green cover outside forests the programmes like Tree cultivation in private lands, Raising Teak plantation in Padugai lands and Free distribution of seedlings to institutions and individual households are being implemented. These programmes would also help to bridge the gap between future supply and demand of fuelwood and timber in the state. The Madras School of Economics in its study report "Wood Balance Study- Tamil Nadu, 2009" has assessed that the total demand for fuelwood in the state would be between 15.17 to 23.22 million cu.m. by 2013. The total demand for timber would vary between 5.4 to 6.5 million cu.m. by 2013 and between 5.7 to 7.7 cu.m. by 2018. In order to bridge the gap between supply and demand tree cultivation outside forestareas needs to be increased and expanded.
INCREASING FOREST / TREE COVER INSIDE FORESTS
This thrust area aims at restoration of the original forest vegetation in the degraded forests, restores the biodiversity and increase productivity of the forests to meet livelihood needs of the forest dependents. As forests support livelihood options of several forest dependents, it is necessary to uplift the quality of life of the forest dependents and to restore the degraded forests in Tamil Nadu through their participation. The Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project Phase-II and National Afforestation Programme are the main schemes which contribute to increase of forest cover.

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Forest management in Tamil Nadu is focused on conservation of Bio-diversity. The State has set apart 7069.72 sq.kms, which is 30.9% of the total forest area of the state, under the network of protected areas in 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 5 National Parks, 15 Bird Sanctuaries and two Conservation Reserve. Tamil Nadu also has one Zoological Park and 8 Zoos for wildlife conservation. The State is also home to 3 Biosphere Reserves viz. Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and Agasthiyar Malai Biosphere Reserve. There are 4 Tiger Reserves in Tamil Nadu viz. Kalakkadu Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.  During the year 2014-15, an extent of 361.58 sq. kms. have been brought under Protected Area Management by declaring an area of 356.73 sq. kms. as "Nellai Wildlife Sanctuary" at Tirunelveli and an extent of 4.85 sq. kms. in Suchindram-Theroor-Manakudy lake area as a Conservation Reserve.  These protected areas hold large habitats of viable population of wildlife, endemic species and keystone species and cover significant landscapes and corridors for large mammals. The protected areas in the State are managed for conservation of biodiversity, education, research, recreation, historical importance, unique landscapes and seascapes. The Western Ghats is one of the 25 global hotspots and one of the 3 mega centers of endemism in India. The forests of Kanyakumari, Kalakadu Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Anamalais, Mudumalai, Mukkurthi, Srivilliputtur, Megamalai owe its richness in flora and fauna due to their position in the Western Ghats.  The management plans for protected areas and working plans for all divisions have contributed significantly towards development and conservation of biodiversity in the State.
TRIBAL DEVELOPMENT

 In order to bring the tribal people to the mainstream, village development works, providing communication, education, health, and drinking water facilities etc., need to be provided so that the tribal people get employment opportunities, which will prevent them from indulging in anti-national activities.

Coastal Area Management

The Tsunami demonstrated tragically the necessity of the vegetative protection structures in the coastal areas.  In order to provide protection to the communities as well as to protect properties, stabilize sand dunes in the coastal areas, 5678 ha. of shelterbelt and 2162 ha. of mangrove plantations were raised in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu under ETRP from 2005-06 to 2008-09. During 2008-09, shelterbelt plantations were raised over an area of 900 hectares in the private lands.

CATCHMENT AREA MANAGEMENT

The objective of catchment area management is to protect and conserve the soil, water and other natural resources. From 1997 onwards under, Tamilnadu Afforestation Project developmental activities are being implemented with this objective in forest areas within the watersheds. This programme is being implemented for the past 16 years with the complete co-operation, support and active participation of the people.  Water harvesting structures like check dams and percolation ponds have been constructed in forests and forest fringe areas, for augmentation of water resources and to provide scope for increased level of underground water availability.

FOREST PROTECTION
The forests in the state are under severe anthropogenic pressures and the forest resources are under constant threat due to various factors. The threats include sandalwood smuggling, illicit felling of other valuable trees, encroachments, forest fires, grazing, ganja cultivation in forest areas etc.  The measures taken by the department to prevent these illegal activities have yielded desired results.  To deal with it very effectively, at present, there are 13 Forest Protection Squads under Protection and Vigilance wing, functioning as two groups covering the State viz. Northern Group (7 Forest Protection Squads) and Southern Group (6 Forest Protection Squads) besides 5 Flying Squads.  Further, 17 Forest Stations, 112 Forest Check Posts and 11 Roving Check Posts are functioning at important and vulnerable points throughout the State.

 The forest personnel are being specially trained to handle latest weapons in order to take up innovative combative and patrol strategies and offence detection methodologies. The protection works include consolidation of forest boundaries by erecting cairns, fire protection through fire line maintenance and cutting new fire lines, involving local people in fire fighting through the creation of Joint Fire Management Committees, employing fire watchers on a regular basis during the dry season, constructing fire watch towers, and employing anti-poaching watchers.
   
 
 
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