Environmental News from India:
- Large-scale diversion of forest land for hydro projects is one of the primary reasons for cutting of chilgoza trees in Himachal Pradesh.
- Destructive harvesting practices and the use of trees for fuelwood, torchwood, and timber also affect the chilgoza pine tree’s natural regeneration process.
- The local people in Kinnaur are protesting against approvals given to new hydro projects, which they fear will destroy the chilgoza trees, an important cash crop in the region.
India’s growing energy requirements have made Kinnaur a major hub of hydro projects in Himachal Pradesh, particularly over the past two to three decades. As a result, there has been a large-scale diversion of forest land and cutting of trees, including chilgoza pine trees, for the construction of dams.
Chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana), called the champion of high mountains, has grown and survived for centuries on high slopes, inaccessible and difficult terrains. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2011 categorized chilgoza trees as near threatened as they continue to decline throughout their range, with an estimated decline of close to 30%. In India, these trees are mainly concentrated in the Kinnaur district and are important cash crops here.
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