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India to have 200 urban forests in next five years

On the occasion of World Environment Day on 5th June, the government announced implementation of the ‘Urban Forest’ (Nagar van) scheme to develop 200 Urban Forests across the country in next five years with a renewed focus on people’s participation and collaboration between Forest Department, Municipal bodies, NGOs, Corporates and local citizens. In view of the prevalent situation due to COVID-19 pandemic the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change held virtual celebrations of World Environment Day on this year’s theme, that is, biodiversity, with focus on Urban Forests.

India is endowed with rich biodiversity having several species of animals and plants and hosts 4 of the 35 global bio-diversity hotspots containing several endemic species. However, increasing population, deforestation, urbanisation and industrialisation have put our natural resources under tremendous pressure causing loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is vital for survival of all life form on this planet and is a key to providing various ecological services. Biodiversity conservation has traditionally been considered confined to remote forest areas but with increasing urbanisation a need has arisen to safeguard and save biodiversity in urban areas also. Urban forest is the best way to bridge this gap. The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has therefore, adopted Nagar van as the theme of WED celebrations 2020 to promote and conserve biodiversity in urban landscapes.

Releasing a brochure on the best practices on Urban Forests and announcing the Nagar Van scheme, Union Environment Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that these forests will work as lungs of the cities and will primarily be on the forest land in the City or any other vacant land offered by local urban local bodies. Stressing on  this year’s theme i.e. “Time for Nature” with special focus on biodiversity, Shri Javadekar said “thumb rule is that if we protect nature, nature protects us” .

Stressing on this year’s focus on Biodiversity the Environment Minister said ,“India has 8 percent of world’s biodiversity, despite having many constraint like only 2.5 % of the world’s landmass, has to carry 16% of human as well as cattle population and having only 4% of fresh water sources; the mega biodiversity that we have is the result of Indian ethos which is to be in sync with the nature.”

The event also saw virtual participation from Executive Director, United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification, (UNCCD), Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw and Executive Director United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), Ms. Inger Andersen.

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