Following pressure from environmental groups, the Forest Department has asked for a review of the order that has exempted 26 species of trees, including mango, from the purview of the Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969.
The government had issued the order on March 3, 2015, following an amendment to the Karnataka Tree Protection Act, 1976, at the legislature session in Belagavi. As per the order, permission was not required to fell 26 varieties of trees.
The order created an uproar as environmentalists alleged that large number of naturally grown mango trees had been felled indiscriminately after the order came into effect. They also threatened to approach the court against the order.
Following the public outcry, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) sought reports from the Chief Conservators of Forests of Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga divisions. In their report, the CCFs stated that the order posed a threat to age-old and naturally grown mango trees and rare species like Hulimavu, Adikemavu, Appemidi, Jeerigemavu and other undocumented species of the Western Ghats region.
Based on this report, the PCCF has written to the Additional Principal Secretary proposing to issue revised orders to drop old mango trees from the list. The PCCF also suggested exempting only grafted mango trees from the Act, and prohibiting felling of trees till the revised order is issued.
The former Chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force, Anant Hegde Ashisar, welcomed the government’s stand. He also demanded dropping ‘Ranjalu’ and some other forest trees form the list.