We all know Arunachal Pradesh is the second-largest forest in India.But unfortunately, Our neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh is gradually losing its major forests every year in a big way. According to the 2021 ISFR report, Arunachal Pradesh has a total geographical area of 83,743 sq km with 16 districts. 257 square kilometres of this has been damaged as compared to the forest assessment of 2019. According to reports the total forest cover inside and outside the recorded forest area is 66,430.67 sq km. Among these forest cover, the densest forest is 21,058.37 sq km, the medium dense forest is 30,175.56 sq km, the open forest is 15,196.74 sq km and the scrub which is not counted total is spread over 796.98 sq km.
Arunachal Pradesh is considered to be one of the forest rich states of the eastern Himalayas. The state has about 20 per cent species of animals, about 4,500 species of flowering plants, 400 species of patideofite, 23 species of coinifers, 35 species of bamboo, 20 species of cane, 52 species of rhododendrons and more than 500 species of orchids. There are also two national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries. It covers 11.68 per cent of the geographical area and forms the protected area network of the state.
The state is completely tribal. Forests are the main basis of livelihood for the local people. However, over the years, development activities in the state, jhum cultivation and other forests have been under constant pressure.
An anti-logging activist Zorjo Tana Tara filed a case in connection with the illegal deforestation in 2019. The report was filed in the National Green Tribunal in this regard. As mentioned in a December 2021 report, a moderately dense forest across Arunachal Pradesh has declined by 934.97 sq km in 2009-2019. On the other hand, the area under scrub forest has increased to 115.81 sq km, under open forest area 29.61 sq km area and 244.09 sq km area in very dense forest. The report noted that forest cultivation and change for development are the main reasons for the negative change in forest cover.
As per the report filed in NGT, a total area of 221.11 sq km has been changed for non-forest activities after approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 in 10 years. ISFR 2021, 5 districts showed positive change among 16 districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The rest of the districts showed negative change. Shows the worst negative trend. Lower Dibang Valley, Dibang Valley, Lohit and Anjawe. Dibang Valley and Lower Dibang Valley of 13,029 sq km area have 69.69 per cent under total forest cover. Of these, the most dense forest is 1,688.91 sq km, medium dense forest area is 4,806.97 sq km, open forest area is 2,5383.83 sq km. This is a total of 9,079.71 sq km, which is 128.19 sq km less than the total 20 assessments.
Meanwhile, a total of 64.64 per cent of the 11,402 sq km of Lohit and Anjao districts are under forest cover. Of these, very dense forest is 2,016.68 sq km, medium dense forest is 3,805.80 sq km, open forest area is 1,547.55 sq km. This is a total of 7,370.03 sq km, which is 217.57 sq km less than the total forest cover of the 2019 assessment. Construction of road from Roing, headquarters of Lower Dibang Valley district to Anini, headquarters of Dibang Valley, is a major development project in Dibang Valley. Which has been going on for the last few years.
According to C.R. Krong, a resident of Anjao district, this is not the only reason why people have destroyed ancient jungles.
“In the last few years people have grown cardamom in large areas and illegal afing sown in the district which is also known as kani” due to good weather conditions in the district.
Dr R Sukumar, a member of the National Wildlife Council of the Centre for Ecology at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, visited Arunachal Pradesh as part of NBWL. He pointed out that the roads leading to the border areas are a necessity keeping in view the national security.
He said, “Construction of roads in hilly areas not only causes a large number of trees to be cut down but also the roads are cut down and dirt and garbage dumped on the slopes causing further damage to the trees.
It may be recalled that since September 2021, the Eastern Division of the National Green Tribunal has been hearing a case against the National Highways Authority of India and The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited in connection with improper methods of cutting, dumping of soil/mountains, stones and dirt in the river in the Dibang Valley.
Meanwhile road construction has been witnessed in Dibang Valley district, said R K Singh, PRINCIPAL SECRETARY, PCCF and Environment and Forests, Government of Arunachal Pradesh.