Commercialization of teak and timber is one of the major reasons behind deforestation in Hosanagara.
“This area was filled with forests, water, various flora and fauna and different kind of wild animals. But nothing of those sorts exists now.” Ramachandra, resident of Hosanagara, has witnessed major changes in his taluk, just like it has happened all across the country. The increase of residents in the area has resulted in deforestation, and nature getting destroyed.
Hosanagara, located in Shimoga district of Karnataka witnesses a major problem of deforestation. The various kinds of trees that were earlier present have vanished. One of the major reasons being the need to have a monoculture, in which only one kind of commercial plantation is grown.
Ramchandra, who is also a farmer, said that out of the three acres of land available, one to one and a half acres were initially utilized for eucalyptus cultivation. However, due to the negative impact of the plant, the eucalyptus has been cut and replaced by areca nut cultivation.
He also added that the plot of land was home to different varieties of trees in the past, along with species of animal like tigers, wild boars. There was no need to bring in flora and fauna from outside, given the vast variety already present in that area. Now, there is no place to for animal to stay or move, and there is also a lack of water.
Another reason behind deforestation is the illegal encroachment of land. The government had allotted land for building houses to tribals. But, there have been misuse of this as the government are also allowing other people to use this land, cut the trees down and build concrete houses.
Krishna A Gowda, Range Forest Officer of Nagara said people are misusing the land given to them. He also mentioned that individuals take up land of reserve forest, and term it their own. Further, he added that the area gets cleared; it’s not much of any help as the trees are already removed, and land becomes barren by then. Almost seven to 15 crore rupees get generated through this practice.
Shankar Gowda, another resident of Hosangara criticised the government officials appointed for the growth of various plantation, stating that there was a lack of vision in the development of these trees and showcasing them in front of the higher authorities as fully grown trees was the only motive. The officials also showed in record that these forests have varieties of trees but its only monoculture.
Omkesh, a resident of Hosanagara, felt that the reduction in forests in the region was due to the involvement of the forest officials, adding that if a sum of rupees five to ten thousand was given to them, they would cut down the trees.
He added that they would cut down whichever tress they needed, thereby damaging the region. The number of forests, as a result of that was decreasing and he urged other officials to take action against those, committing this activity.
Adding on, another issue which comes is the creation of jagerry at night. At dark, these individuals go to the forests and cut down trees. They do so in night because of the fear of forest officials.
At night, these individuals burn logs and prepare the jaggery. Putting the log in the burner is a tedious job. Man force of two to three people would take the logs and put it in burner. It was not possible for a single person to place the log.
Jagdeesh Rao farmer and resident, Hosangara, says deforestation is a continuous process in Hosanagara with the support of forest officials. He further adds that forest officers knows that people are cutting trees and make use of log to prepare jaggery, but they don’t take any action against them.
In spite of Supreme Court direction, forest department are planting acacia and eucalyptus which is not good for other forest tress and forest life. Because of this we have lost various species of wild life.
The Hindu report suggested that there is increase in green cover in Karnataka but there is continuous decline in green cover in the areas like Shimoga district. The report says that open forest has reduced by 654 sq.km; it covers 10 to 40 percent of forest area.
Ananth Murthy, owner of Ankur Nursery farms, Hosanagara said that trees like aracanuts, which are cultivated by farmers, are not useful to society. He also added that it is not a food item; it is only used with tobacco and for chewing purpose which consumes lots of water which also includes ground water.
Residents are not happy with the functioning of the forest department, because they are the one who encourages deforestation by taking money, according to Omkesh.
Alexander Fernandes, another resident of Hosanagara said that they are requesting government to take proper measure to avoid this and to appoint official who can show interest in preserving forest as well as discussing the issue with residents as well. They need a proper channel which can help to improve the forest areas with forest trees instead of financial crops and could help people living near forest area.