By Vimal Chander Joshi, 15th July,2015 for TOI Gurgaon
GURGAON: A forest department report has revealed that Mangar is home to almost 6 lakh trees, making it a strong contender for the ‘natural conservation zone’ tag.
The report, which was submitted to National Green Tribunal on July 7, says that the forest department carried out random sampling and found that there were 5,99,889 trees in an area of 4,262 acres.
Admitting that it was not possible to arrive at an exact figure, given the vast expanse of area, the report reads, “It was decided to adopt the methodology of stratified random sampling employed by the forest survey of India, Dehradun, during the survey of forest areas throughout the country. Around 30% of the area is so badly damaged by mining that it hardly supports any vegetation now.”
The report divides the entire Mangar Bani into five parts. The first one is the core area spread over an area of 17.59 hectare around the Bani temple in the foothills, which has 8,300 trees. The second part has medium density vegetation and is spread over an area of 244 hectare along the slopes of the hills. This area has 86,000 trees.
The third stratum has sparse vegetation, where the granite core of the Aravali hills are exposed. This is spread over an area of 357 hectare and has 1.50 lakh trees. The fourth part comes under the PLPA (Punjab Land Preservation Act) and is spread over an area of 464 hectare and has 3.12 lakh trees.
The fifth part is located on the eastern part of Manger and is characterized by a rocky surface having old mining pits, low soil depth and sparse vegetation. This area is spread over an area of 452 hectare and has 42,000 trees.
This study was carried out following an NGT order on April 15, which also directed the state forest department to constitute a committee to make the report. The committee members comprised principal chief secretary, conservator of forests, additional principal chief conservator of forest (central), member of forest survey of India, chief conservator of forests, Gurgaon, and conservator of forests, Gurgaon.
During the survey that was carried out on June 12, some samples of soil in Mangar forest were collected and sent for a comprehensive report to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. A scientist from National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources had also visited the area to survey the flora of forest.
Prof Sudipto Chatterjee, associate professor of biodiversity and conservation, TERI University said, “Mangar, with such thick vegetation are the lungs of this region.”
RP Balwan, former conservator of forest (Gurgaon), said, “We have always been rooting for Mangar to be declared a forest. But this is panchayat land that was later bought by private builders. The government can buy it and then declare it a forest.”