In a move to provide green cover to Ladakh and prevent soil erosion during flash floods common to this region, officials of the state forest department are mulling to plant juniper trees in large numbers since it remains green even during snowfall.

Ladakh region, which is barren and almost desert-like, is struggling to get a green cover and many scientists and research institutes have been roped in by the administration for this purpose. According to the forest officials, they are very keen to preserve and promote juniper plant species to give a green cover to both Kargil and Leh. The State Forest Department recently with the help of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) had held a two-day workshop and training programme with the collaboration of Himalayan Forest Research Institute, Shimla. The forest officials said that during the two-day programme, farmers and forest officials were given technical training of how to plant juniper saplings.

Dorjay Motup, chief executive councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, said that the programme on seed and nursery techniques of juniper, an important medicinal plant of cold desert region, was held at his behest. He said that juniper can make the dream of green cover a success and he is keen to get the field staff trained in Leh and Kargil forest divisions so that juniper and other important high attitude medicinal plants could be planted in huge numbers. “We have started making a nursery of juniper plants on a two-acre plot and very soon the nursery would be functional,” divisional forest officer of Ladakh Muhammad Abbas told The Sunday Guardian.

He said that the nursery would be completed by next year and in the first stage, 500 saplings would be planted. He said that the scientists from Himalayan Forest Research Institute will be providing the juniper plant saplings from Himachal Pradesh.

“The institute has developed seedlings of juniper and their transplantation techniques are already a success in their own district in Himachal Pradesh,” Abbas said.

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