On the eve of World Plantation Day, the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) held a plantation drive at its Benihama campus, Lar, Ganderbal campus.
On the occasion, Vice Chancellor SKUAST, Prof Nazir Ahmed, asserted that ‘Sustainable development is need of the hour’.
While planting saplings in the ‘virgin’ mountainous campus, the VC said, “SKUAST is ensuring to maintain native species of plants especially trees like alpine tress especially Betula (Birch) which are on the verge of extinction. “We are introducing Jetrofa plants from which bio-diesel can be extracted,” he told Kashmir Life.
On the question of whether foreign species of plants can adapt to Kashmir’s climatic conditions, the VC said, “until now, process is showing positivity but if any sort difficulty occurs with regard to introduction of outside plant species, efforts would be done to better it.” “Priority of SKUAST is also to preserve and increase native species of plants.”
He said increasing number of man-animal conflicts is resultant of decreasing forest cover. “Efforts should also be from common masses to renew forest cover,” he said.
DC Ganderbal, Showkat Ajaz, who also was present on the occasion, said, “Forests constitute biological heritage. Forest cover of Kashmir has been reduced from 30% cent to 15%cent.”
“As a development commissioner of Ganderbal,” he said, “I feel it as my responsibility to renew the forest cover of the district.” “The district has rich gallery of forests. At Malhaar nursery, lush green forest is coming up slowly which shows our seriousness towards increasing forest cover,” he said.
Showkat impressed upon the audience “need of striking critical balance with forests”. “There should be repayment in the form of growing trees if need is felt to cut one tree.”
Dean Faculty of Forests, SKUAST, Prof KN Qaiser said, “Humans are simply exploiting resources which are hitting us hard in the form of climate change.”
Ruing that Kashmiris have forgot holy teaching of their saints, Extension officer Ganderbal Rafiqa Kamili quoted couplet of great Sheikh ul Alam (RA): ‘An posh telli yeli Wan pooshi’. “We have derailed from righteous path.”
Informing that the Faculty of Forests was shifted to Benihama campus a year ago, Dr Naseem Geelani, a teacher of the Faculty told Kashmir Life, “From day one, we are committed to make our campus of 1000 kanals 100 % afforested.”
“This is a mountainous, barren land, however, we will make sure in coming years that it is covered under dense forest cover,” he said. “All over the world including our valley, levels of pollution measures in terms of ppm are increasing.”
He said, “best solution in this regard is afforestation. The aim of today’s programme is to create awareness about plantation.”