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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 50,000 native trees divided amongst two ecological regions of Sikkim.The plantation of 35,000 trees is conducted in 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.The plantation of the rest of 15,000 trees is conducted in the temperate habitat at the reserve forests of Tsomgo watershed in East Sikkim

Objectives

The plantation project of 50,000 tree saplings is to be implemented with the following major objectives:

  • To develop community-based ecotourism by beautifying the place with the active involvement of the local people.
  • To mitigate deforestation and forest degradation and encourage more carbon sequestration
  • 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 more than 40,000 people.

India has two out of the eighteen biodiversity hot-spots in the world located in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. As per the Sikkim ENVIS Report, Sikkim covers just 0.2% the state but has tremendous biodiversity 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.

Flora and Fauna

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).

Recorded faunal species from the region includes the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Golden Jackal (Canis aureus), Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), Asiatic Black Bear (Selenarctos Himalayans), Himalayan Palm Civet (Paguma larvata), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) and Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjac).

The region is rich in avian diversity including Kaleej Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanus), Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra), Rusty-bellied Shortwing (Brachypteryx hyperythra). It is also home to some rarities like the speckled wood pigeon (Columba hodgsonii), Bay woodpecker (Blythipicus pyrrhotis) and Ward’s Trogon (Harpactes wardi).

Tree Species

The project involves plantation of several valuable native tree species including Abies, Daphnephyllum, Erythrina, Magnolia, Rhododendron, Symingtoria, Terminalia and Vibernum.

Impact

The tree plantation helps 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 50,000 trees in Sikkim is speculated to create around 4000 workdays for the local 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 made to get involved in plantation activities starting from the digging process to 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 based produce. In terms of carbon offsetting, 50,000 trees are going to offset an approximate of 1 million kgs of carbon dioxide!

Several studies have also shown that the planting of trees ensures that the rain droplets sink into the soil rather than flowing above ground thus increasing the groundwater table through water recharge. These trees will also help in conserving the local flora and fauna by providing them with adequate food and natural habitat sources.

 

Company Name Number of Trees Year
Blue Dart Express Ltd                    20,000      2017-2018

 



PlantedRemainingTarget
70,000070,000

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