Published: Monday 30 November 1998

BAN on commercial felling of trees in Himachal Pradesh is yielding results. The forest cover has increased and there has been a rise in the population of endangered species like the snow leopard. The state government, which had banned tree felling for commercial purposes, is now permitting felling by farmers under the timber distribution (TD) system. Even the TD was restricted to one tree per family in five years. The state government has asked the Union government for funds so that it can increase the forest cover of the state by 50 per cent. Nearly 17,296 sq km area of the state comprising of snow covered areas and summer pastures was unfit for growing trees because of the high altitude.

According to the state's forest minister, Roop Singh Thakur, 32 sanctu- aries and two national parks have been identified for protecting the rare species of plants. Work in this regard has been completed in 26 sanctuaries, he said.

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