Trees for Ecotourism

Sikkim, India

Project Adopted by MakeMyTrip Foundation FY 2019-20

Project Purpose
Trees for Developing Community Based Ecotourism

Location
The project involves plantation of 70,000 local trees divided amongst two ecological regions of Sikkim; the sub-tropical habitat in the fringes of Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary covering the reserve forests area of Chandaney, Lailakha, and Chandaney ranges in East Sikkim and the temperate habitat at the reserve forests of Tsomgo watershed in East Sikkim.

Aim

  • To develop community-based ecotourism by beautifying the place with active involvement of the local people
  • To mitigate deforestation and forest degradation and encourage carbon sequestration in the region
  • To safeguard biodiversity habitats of the region
  • To strengthen forest-based livelihood and energy sources for local communities which would, in turn, ensure sustainable development
  • To conserve the habitat of endemic flora and fauna

Why Trees?
The Sikkim Human Development Report 2014 recognised tourism as one of the potential sectors for growth and livelihood creation. Situated at the south-eastern corner of the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim, the Pangolakha range has been selected to implement the plantation project. Plantation of trees at the forest ranges and in their surrounding villages will help in the ecological and wildlife restoration, and in improving the quality of life of local communities, making them more self-sustained. The tourism sector has emerged as the vital industry of Sikkim in recent decades, providing direct employment to at least 40,000 people.

India has two out of the eighteen biodiversity hot-spots in the world, located in the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas. As per the Sikkim ENVIS Report, Sikkim covers only 0.2% geographical area of the country landmass and has been identified as one of the hot-spot in the Eastern Himalayas. The Himalayas are continuously under global pressure of climate change, which is adversely impacting its fragile ecosystems, rich biodiversity, and sensitive local livelihoods. Forests and climate change are intimately intertwined. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the forests capture atmospheric carbon dioxide at a rate equivalent to about one-third the amount released annually by burning fossil fuels. Stopping deforestation and regenerating forests, therefore, could provide up to 30 per cent of the climate solution.

Tree Species
The canopy layer of the subtropical ecoregion is predominant with broadleaf species, such as Castonopsis, Machilus, Rhododendron, Michelia, and the species such as Eurya, Viburnum, Litsea, Bucklandia, among other associates are dominant in the understory vegetation. The temperate region of Tsomgo watershed in Sikkim consists of ground vegetation which is typically a scrub forest dominated by sunpati (Rhododendron anthopogon), and juniper(Juniperus indica).

The project involves plantation of several valuable local tree species, including Willow (Salix), Rhododendron (Rhododendron kiusianum), Silver Fir, Lakhuri (Araucaria bindrabunensis), Chandan (Santalum album), Chinday (Pentapanax leschenaulti), Khanakpa (Evodia fraxinifolia), Kafal (Myrica esculenta), Asarey (Viburnum erubescens), Faladho, Kaijal (Ischofia javanica), Titey Chaap (Phlogacanthus thursiflorus), Lokta (Daphne), Kharanay (Delonix regia), Peepli (Exbucklandia populnea), Chilaunay (Schima wallichii), Mushuray Katush (Castanopsis hystrix), Pani Sajh (Terminalia myriocarpa), Tuni (Toona ciliata), and Paarang (Mimosa procera).

Social Impact
The tree plantation will help in promoting sustainable eco-tourism and wildlife tourism by improving the overall ecological health and enhancing wildlife habitat in a particular area. The plantation project of 70,000 trees in Sikkim is speculated to create over 5,700 workdays for the rural and tribal communities of Sikkim, including women self-help groups. Indigenous communities are the ones that know their forests the best and that’s why they are encouraged to get involved in plantation activities starting from the pit digging process to their maintenance after the maturity of trees. Through trees, the local communities will be able to attain sustainable income sources in the form of timber-based produce and non-timber forest produces. In terms of carbon offsetting, these trees are going to offset approximately 1.4 million kgs of carbon dioxide! These trees will also help in conserving the local flora and fauna by providing them with adequate food and natural habitat sources.

Adoption Status:

Name of the Company Number of Trees Adopted FY
MakeMyTrip Foundation 50,000 2019-20
Blue Dart Express Ltd. 20,000 2017-18
Target Completed


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