Shimla’s deodars ageing, poor regeneration cause for concern

In view of soil conditions and pressure of the already existing terrestrial development, tree cover has been severely affected

Shimla’s deodars ageing, poor regeneration cause for concern

A deodar forest in Shimla. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Tribune News Service

Pratibha Chauhan

Shimla, February 20

The ageing of the majestic deodars in the state capital, along with poor natural regeneration and tree felling for the construction activity, has become a major cause for concern with the survival of new plantation being extremely poor.

“Tree felling for the construction activity and unregulated dumping of solid waste and debris along the hill slopes by people is causing degradation of forests,” says the Shimla Draft Development Plan (SDP). Deliberating on the subject of Forests and Green Cover, the SDP mentions that Deodars have reached the maturity level, which is an issue of great concern.

Dumping, tree felling another worry

Tree felling for the construction activity and unregulated dumping of solid waste along the hill slopes is causing degradation of forests. Shimla Draft Development Plan

In view of soil conditions and pressure of the already existing terrestrial development, tree cover has been severely affected. It has been suggested that a massive plantation and landscaping is required in the entire Shimla Planning Area and the species of trees to be planted need to be identified for specific areas so that the survival rate improves.

It is also mentioned that the ban on green felling is limiting regeneration. The Forest Department plans to plant pine trees on the vacant land patches and steep slopes under the ambitious tree planting programmes combined with natural expansion of forests to help retain the green cover of the town.

Several studies by experts in the past have indicated that the deodars can be seen developing flat tops, indicating that they have attained complete maturity. Half-hearted attempts have been made, both by the department and several organisations to help in plantation of deodars but with scant attention to their survival, the efforts have not yielded much results.

The SDP also deliberates on the issue of tree felling for the construction activity and unregulated dumping of solid waste and debris along the hill slopes by people causing degradation of forests. It also mentions that soil erosion and landslides, especially along the natural drains, is causing widening of drains, exposing trees along the drain to felling. The soil compaction has led to deterioration of soil quality, which, in turn, has led to phenomenon of tree felling in the entire Shimla region.

As per existing land-use analysis, the forests (forests, tree clad area and plantation areas) constitute about 43 per cent of the Shimla Planning Area. The predominant species in the forest are deodar, pine, oak, kail, rai and rhododendron. The town has 17 thickly wooded no construction green belts spread over 414 hectares, which includes 314 hectares with the government and 100 hectares with private individuals. The forests within the Shimla MC (SMC) area were managed by the SMC under the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1994, but have now been transferred to the Department of Forest for efficient management.

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