Trees for Himalayan Rural Communities
The project would be implemented in 3 Van Panchyats in Ramgarh block as Nathuakhan (12 ha), Bareth (20 ha) and Meora (10 ha) ranges of Nainital district, Uttarakhand, India. All three locations form the sub-tropical forest belt.
The state earns most of its revenue from the tourism sector. Frequent disasters like landslides and cloudbursts have led to various obstructions in the tourism sector mentions Business Standard in it’s 29th September 2013 article, which restricts the ample job opportunities for the people. The state faces various in development of the tourism sector and one of them is the threat of impending disaster, as reported by Hindustan Times on September 27th, 2018, making conservation of forests extremely important in the state. To support sustainable agriculture in the hills six ha of forest is required for one ha of agriculture as mentioned by Nehal A. Farooquee and R. K. Maikhuri in their journal article Role of the State on Forests: Case of Uttarakhand. The communities are aware of the wealth of this forest due to which they, especially the women had initiated the Chipko Movement, one of it’s kind in forest conservation in India. A study by TERI University mentions the importance of forests in hydrological services, carbon sequestration and storage, pollination services for agriculture and also the overuse of the resources for livelihood requirements of the local community, making plantation of trees extremely important for the local community and the ecology of the area.
The selected villages for the project implementation form a subtropical habitat with elevation ranging between 1400 and 1800 meter with sal, pine, oak, rhododendrons, kaphal being dominant trees. The flora covers a wide and diverse range of plants ranging from Bryophytes, orchids, rare climbing plants, ferns, lichens, fungi, medicinal herbs and shrubs. The rich avian diversity of the area makes it a birders paradise, some of the prominent avian fauna include magpies, barbets, parakeets, thrushes, woodpeckers, jungle Owlet, fish eagle, lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, crested serpent eagle, flycatchers, and cheer pheasants, Kalij pheasant, Koklas pheasants.
The area is equally rich in faunal diversity, which is home to macaques, jackal, and foxes, Himalayan black bear, marten, civet, barking deer, sambar, porcupine among others. The project involves plantation of Banj (Quercus sp.), Aonla (Pahytolacca sp.), Bhatula (Desnodium sp., Bhimal (Grevia sp.), Majuna (Salix sp.), Shatoot (Morus sp.) and Bakian (Melina sp.).
Uttarakhand is situated at the northern India along the mighty Himalayas range. The forest resource management in the area is governed by unique ‘Van Panchayat’ to be compatible with sustainable development usually being administered by village level elected body. With 20 to 30 % of the local households in the selected villages are living below poverty line, the locals show very high dependency on forest resources on their day-to-day requirements, mostly in terms of firewood and fodder for livestock usage. The project involves plantation of 25000 native tree saplings in selected three Van Panchayat areas covering about 42 hectors of land. This will primarily strengthen the unique ‘Van Panchayat’ governance for sustainable natural resource management. The plantation will encourage participatory approach with direct community involvement in conservation action simultaneously generating local employment while project implementation and monitoring which supports the sensitive rural economy. The project being implemented with promotion of multipurpose native trees. With focus on raising Oak species because of its multiple socio-environmental benefits. Oaks foliage is a major source of fodder, acorns are edible and is suitable for silvi-horticultural systems with several cash crops of the area with high rhizome yield being grown best under Oak canopy. The selected native species will be planted in the identified areas to reclamation into forest lands to improve wildlife habitat, control top soil erosion, check surface water runoff and aiding ecosystem services overall supporting benefit: cost ratio to the locals. The plantation will help to absorb a minimum of 300,000 Kgs of atmospheric Carbon upon attending mature forests while greening the environment.