Shimla: Amidst the depleting forest area and rising deforestation in the country, here’s a piece of good news for environmentalists. Forest wealth in Himachal Pradesh is on the rise.

According to reports, 11 years ago the state had over Rs 1,06,666 crore forest wealth which is expected to increase further. The forest department of the state has assigned the task of evaluation of forest wealth to the Indian Institute of Forest Management situated in Bhopal, which is likely to visit in July.

The latest figures reveal that the total forest area of Himachal Pradesh is 37,033 square kilometer which includes 3224 square km of dense forest.

Chief Conservator of Forests (Working Plan) Tejinder Singh confirmed the allocation of the assignment of assessing forest wealth given to IIFM and said, “The initial work has been started.The team is on its visit to Sikkim after which it is expected to come to Himachal in July.”

According to head of IIFM, Prof Madhu Verma, Himachal Pradesh is a diversified state in terms of forest wealth. “According to the study conducted 11 years ago, the state’s forest wealth was worth more than Rs 1 lakh crore. This time it is likely to increase. The country should take a lesson from the state on forest and environment conservation,” she said.

Various standards are followed for evaluation of forest wealth, which includes adoption of direct and indirect standards. The resources received directly from the forest include wood, fodder, grass and leaves etc. Indirect possession includes land conservation, soil conservation and oxygen apart from the forest-based tourism.

Recently, a new concept of carbon credits has also been attached to evaluate the forest wealth. At the time of evaluation of forest wealth, fertility of the soil along with water, biodiversity and price of timber is also checked.

Water of Suyog Catchment area purest

A study conducted a few years back by the forest department had revealed that the quality of water of Suyog Catchment area in Shimla is the purest. Reasons attributed behind the better quality of water were abundance of trees and non-occurrence of soil erosion in this area. Besides, the presence of natural herbs also accounted the water to be beneficial for health.