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Pretty pictures, vanishing biodiversity by Priscilla Jebaraj October 14,2012   |  Source: The Hindu

The delegates from 192 nations now in Hyderabad for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) would get a glowing picture of their host nation's biodiversity wealth going by their welcome kits. Stunning images of tigers and squirrels, peacocks and mountains are splashed across brochures, along with quaint tales of how Emperor Ashoka established the world's first nature reserves in ancient India in the second century BC, and idealistic Mahatma Gandhi quotes on how the earth provides enough for man's need, not greed.

It's a grimmer picture if one moves from glossy images to hard numbers.

On Friday, the Environment Ministry announced that over the last one year, it has permitted the legal diversion of more than 15,000 hectares of forest land, with the lion's share going to the mining industry. Over the last three decades, more than 11 lakh hectares have been diverted legally, not even taking into account the rampant illegal encroachment and decimation of Indian forests.

The country's national report to the CBD does show progress in afforestation, with 5 million hectares added over the last decade. But environmental experts bemoan the facts beyond those figures: untouched pristine forests are being replaced by paper and timber plantations in the name of


© 2012, The Hindu

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