Van Mahotsav was launched in the year 1950 by Shri Kanhaiyalal. M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture and Food to create an enthusiasm in the popular mind for the preservation of forest and planting of trees, as "trees mean water, water means bread and bread is life". It was also hoped that it would create tree consciousness among the people.
Van Mahotsav, a week long festival of tree planting is organised every year in the month of July all across India and lakhs of trees are planted.
The planting of trees during vanmahatsova was to serve the following purposes :
To provide fuel and thus release cowdung for use as manure.
- To increase production of fruits and add to the potential food resources of the country.
- To help creation of shelterbelts around agricultural fields to increase their productivity.
- To provide fodder leaves for cattle to relieve intensity of grazing over reserved forests.
- To provide shade and ornamental trees for the landscape.
- To provide small poles and timber for agricultural implements, house construction and fencing.
- To help conservation of soil and further deterioration of soil fertility.
- To inculcate tree consciousness and love of trees amongst the people; and
- To popularise the planting and tending of trees in farms, villages, municipal and public lands for their aesthetic, economic and protective needs.
Forest and Environment Department Meghalaya organizes tree planting in school, college and community land during the month of July every year to observe Van Mahotsav. The Department also distributes seedlings to individuals and institutions to mark the occasion.