Rautahat, March 28
Sal trees are being felled in the name of scientific forest management of late in Rautahat.
Locals have started venting concern as District Forest Office, Rautahat, has been cutting down trees for the past one week. Millions of rupees are being spent for the conservation of forest and natural resources, but the outcome has been almost nil leaving the local people worried.
A source from the DFO said that the process of chopping 300 trees was on at Hatemalo Community Forest. The source said young and green trees were being felled though only the trees over 80 years were supposed to be felled.
Dipen Shrestha from Gaur said forest cover was depleting after employees, users’ groups and others started taking forest as a source of income. “Depletion of the forest is leading to climate change, environmental degradation, drying up of water sources, soil erosion, and lack of timely rainfall,” Shrestha said. He said the apathy shown by the concerned agencies to protect the forest had taken him by surprise.
Rakesh Thakur from Gaur vented ire at felling of trees in the name of scientific forest management. “If the current trend continues, there will be no forest in the district in the next few years,” he said.
A road was constructed from Dhansar to Jangalsaiya by felling trees along the east-west highway. As per the existing laws, permission from the forest ministry is a must for felling trees to construct roads, but the trees were cut without fulfilling legal procedures.
Hundreds of trees have been chopped for road construction. More than 500 trees were cut, but the DFO record shows that only 260 trees were felled.
District Forest Officer Dhirgha Narayan Koirala, however, argued that new trees would grow only after the old ones were cleared. He said a file was at the Ministry of Forest to receive an approval for tree felling along the Dhansar-Jangalsaiya road.
A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.