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MP Forest Officer’s Decade-Long Effort Gifts India a Greener Future on Environment Day

On World Environment Day, Indian Masterminds presents you with the interesting story of an IFS officer who was on a mission to reclaim nearly 9000 hectares of forest land over the past decade. Read the article to learn more…
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Madhya Pradesh’s North Forest Division of Seoni exemplifies commitment to forest conservation and reclamation. Over the years, significant strides have been made in reclaiming encroached forest land, addressing deforestation, and preventing desertification. The collective efforts of forest officials, local communities, and conservationists have transformed this region into a beacon of hope for forest conservation. Under the guidance of Basu Kannogia, IFS, the Conservator of Forest, North Seoni Division has embarked on a mission to reclaim nearly 9000 hectares of forest land over the past decade, transforming degraded landscapes back into thriving ecosystems. Speaking with Indian Masterminds, she shared about the works in detail. 

A DECADE OF DEDICATION 

The timeline of forest reclamation efforts in various divisions of Madhya Pradesh exemplifies sustained and methodical work. Since September 2013, Ms. Kannogia and her team have freed extensive tracts of land from illegal encroachments:

Chhatarpur (2013-2014): 1268 hectares

Ashok Nagar (2014-2016): 1936 hectares

Panna (2016): 1749 hectares

Umariya (2017-2018): 750 hectares

Panna National Park (2018-2019): 265 hectares

Ratlam (2019-2020): 5.50 hectares

North Seoni Division (2022-present): 2908.162 hectares

“These efforts have not only reclaimed land but also bolstered forest protection, reducing instances of forest crime and illegal logging,” Ms. Kannogia added. 

THE NORTH SEONI INITIATIVE 

The North Seoni Division, active since March 2022, has seen significant progress in the reclamation of forest land:

2022-23: 1140.280 hectares freed

2023-24: 1095.382 hectares freed

2024-25: 672.500 hectares freed

“The strategy here has been multifaceted,” she said. While large-scale encroachments have not been a major issue, smaller encroachments by residents were addressed through community engagement and employment creation. By involving the youth in forest protection activities, the division has not only conserved the forests but also created economic opportunities, leading to a symbiotic relationship between the community and the environment.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EMPLOYMENT 

A key element of the North Seoni Division’s success has been its focus on public awareness and community participation. Efforts to educate residents about the importance of forest conservation, coupled with the creation of employment opportunities in forest-related activities, have been pivotal. Projects such as the establishment of a Bamboo Craft Museum Outlet and various skill development centers have provided platforms for local artisans and laborers to earn a livelihood while contributing to forest conservation.

RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION 

The physical reclamation of forest land has involved several steps:

  • Foiling Encroachment Attempts: Vigilant monitoring and prompt action against encroachment attempts have been crucial.
  • Plantation Work: Post-eviction, the focus shifts to planting medicinal plants and other native species. In 2022 alone, tree plantations in degraded forest areas covered sensitive regions, enhancing biodiversity and restoring ecological balance.
  • Infrastructure Development: Construction of Continuous Contour Trenches (CPT) in sensitive areas, along with fencing, has fortified reclaimed lands against future encroachment.

GRASS PRODUCTION AND LIVELIHOOD SUPPORT 

Innovative projects, such as grass production in plantation areas, have also been significant. “Over three years, from 2021 to 2023, 742.89 quintals of grass were produced, benefiting nearly 900 locals,” Ms. Kannogia shared with Indian Masterminds. This initiative not only prevents soil erosion but also supports livestock farming, which is crucial for local economies.

LOOKING FORWARD 

The ongoing battle against deforestation in Seoni is a powerful example of what dedicated efforts can achieve. By combining strict law enforcement with community engagement and sustainable livelihood projects, the North Seoni Division has set a model for forest conservation efforts nationwide. As Ms. Kannogia and her team continue their work, the hope is to see even more of India’s forest lands restored, providing a healthier environment for future generations.

In a world grappling with climate change and biodiversity loss, the story of Seoni’s forests offers a glimmer of hope and a roadmap for others to follow.


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