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Trees for Hanguls™

Khrew and Khonmoh Conservation Reserves, Kashmir, India

Available for Adoption upto: 50,000 Trees

Project Purpose
Trees for Forests™ & Wildlife

Location

In FY 2024-25, we will plant 50,000 trees in Khrew and Khonmoh Conservation Reserves in Pulwama and Srinagar district of Kashmir, India.

Aim

Enhancement of

Biodiversity

Groundwater

Recharge

Increase in

Green Cover

Generation of

Rural Employment

Improvement of

Wildlife Habitats

Improvement of

Hangul Habitat

Why Trees?

 

Amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Kashmir, a pressing ecological disaster is unfolding as the fate of the Kashmir Red Deer, also known as Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu) hangs in the balance. They are a subspecies of Cervus elaphus that are critically endangered with a population of less than 200, mainly confined to the Dachigam landscape in Jammu & Kashmir.[1] These elegant and elusive creatures with their sleek, russet coat and impressive antlers are the only surviving sub-species of the European red deer in Asia, making it an integral part of the region’s biodiversity. Today the Hangul deer is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, underscoring the urgent need for action.[2]

 

The interference with the natural environment in the form of human activities like urbanisation is also responsible for the habitat degradation and decline in Hangul’s population.[3] Large-scale deforestation has directly impacted the environmental well-being of the region.

Research by Mukesh et al. states that, “The loss of genetic diversity and inbreeding in the Kashmir red deer population has been noted, emphasising the need for proper conservation and management of natural environmental resources, particularly the Hanguls in Kashmir.”[4]

 

Changes in land use and land cover dynamics have significantly altered the landscape of Kashmir, as stated by Jamal et al., with notable alterations observed in plantation areas, water bodies, built-up areas, and agricultural land. These changes have implications for the overall ecosystem health and wildlife habitats in the region.[5]

 

The Trees for Hanguls™ project, near Khrew and Khonmoh Conservation Reserves, Kashmir, India fulfills multiple objectives. Through the tree plantation activities, we are actively restoring the habitat for the Hanguls. As the trees mature, they provide invaluable ecological benefits such as carbon sequestration, an adequate water supply and a healthy source of nutrition for the Hanguls. Planting trees will also help to meet the needs of local communities who depend on forest resources. Additionally, through the Trees for Hanguls™ project, we also aim to raise awareness of the need to conserve the Hangul population. This sensitisation program lays the foundation for lasting and meaningful change.

 

Tree Species

 

A study on the Hangul’s habitat use patterns and food habits in the Ethology, Ecology and Evolution journal found that the Hangul is a mixed feeder (engaging in both browsing and grazing) with a preference for browse in almost all seasons. Nonetheless, the evidence from the direct feeding observation suggests that the Hanguls have a preference for browse and bark-stripped woody species such as Kail (Pinus wallichiana).[6]

 

When selecting the species for the Trees for Hanguls™ project, our focus has been on fulfilling the needs of the Hanguls while simultaneously benefiting the surrounding community. Based on the landscape-level conservation planning model, we are planting a mix of coniferous and broadleaf species.[7] Kail (Pinus wallichiana) and Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) serve as a valuable food source for the Hanguls.

 

Cypress (Cupressus torulosa) and Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) provide ample shade and shelter. The inclusion of Apple (Malus pumila/domestica), Pear (Pyrus communis L.), Quince (Cydonia oblonga) and Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) offer various benefits to the villagers around the planting site.

 

Social Impact

 

By aligning ecological restoration with social impact, the Trees for Hanguls™ project presents a win-win scenario for all. The project does not only strive to safeguard the Hanguls but also brings tremendous socio-economic benefits to the surrounding communities.

 

Our projects generate employment opportunities that result in improving livelihoods; by offering meaningful and fair employment, this initiative can help reverse the trend of migration. Moreover, at a broader, social level, the project has the potential to foster community engagement and promote sustainable practices.

 

While research on the elusive Hangul species remains limited, the general consensus among experts is that human activities are one of the major reasons for the decline in their population. Factors such as rising pollution, poaching, land use and habitat fragmentation have had an adverse effect on the ecosystem. Planting trees is an effective measure to combat these threats because of their ability to absorb carbon, improve air quality, provide shelter and screen and recharge groundwater.

 

The Trees for Hangul™ project recognizes that wildlife protection can be a catalyst to social well-being. Through our holistic approach, we are able to pursue our commitment to restore ecosystems, protect wildlife and build a legacy of harmony and balance.

 

[4] Sharma, L., Kumar, V., Charoo, S., Mohan, N., Goyal, S., & Sathyakumar, S. (2013). Loss of genetic diversity and inbreeding in kashmir red deer (cervus elaphus hanglu) of dachigam national park, jammu & kashmir, india. BMC Research Notes, 6(1).

[5] Jamal, S. and Ahmad, W. (2020). Assessing land use land cover dynamics of wetland ecosystems using landsat satellite data. Sn Applied Sciences, 2(11).

[6] K. Ahmad, Q. Qureshi, G. Agoramoorthy & P. Nigam (2016). Habitat use patterns and food habits of the Kashmir red deer or Hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu) in Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India, Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 28:1, 85-101.

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