Meghalaya: CM distributes PES cheques for forest protection in Tura
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma distributing Cheques during Payment of Ecosystem Services at Distrcit Auditorium, Tura

TURA: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday distributed cheques for the Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES) to selected individuals and communities under the Garo Hills region at the district auditorium in Tura.

The Green Meghalaya scheme – Grassroot level Response towards Ecosystem Enhancement and Nurturing – aims to build the capacities of communities to manage natural resources productively and effectively through training, exposure and learning from best practices, innovations, and traditional knowledge.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma during distribution of Payment for Ecosystem Services at Tura

Speaking on the occasion, CM Conrad Sangma said the rural community has been the custodians of natural resources for generations and that Rs 50 crore had been earmarked for the Green Meghalaya scheme this financial year to offer financial incentives for the conservation of forests and natural resources.

Stating that the effects and consequences of climate change and global warming can be seen everywhere and that the forest cover in the region is also decreasing rapidly, he said the government is trying to restore the green cover by launching several programmes, such as afforestation, multi-purpose reservoir, spring shed rejuvenation, cleaning drives, to restore and rehabilitate the lost biodiversity and ecosystem.

Pointing out that people mainly depend on forest products, the Chief Minister said Meghalaya comprises 76 percent forest cover out of which 94 percent is owned by communities and individuals, and only 6 percent of reserved and protected forests are under the direct control of the State Forest Department and added that community participation is necessary for the success of the program.

In order to provide financial assistance and livelihood opportunities to these people for protecting and maintaining the forest, he informed that the government has initiated a special scheme ‘Green Meghalaya’, which is a payment towards the communities for conserving their forest resources.

He also expressed hope that it would also create awareness and motivate others to value natural resources with sustainable management practices to be passed on to the next generation.

According to the Chief Minister, the scheme is being co-funded by the World Bank through the Community-Led Landscape Management Program and forest owners with a minimum of 5 hectares of natural forest will be given financial support for a period of 5 years based on the size of their forest landholding.

He further added that about 298 villages from across the Garo Hills region had received funds amounting to Rs 6 crore from the Green Meghalaya Scheme.

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