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Trees for Farmers, Harda, Madhya Pradesh, India

Project Purpose

Trees for Farmers

Location

The project activity was carried out during the financial year 2016-17, in the Harda district covering village ranges of Gahal, Balagaon, Ehalvada, Kathadi and Gondagaon kalan situated adjoining to banks of the Narmada and its tributaries mainly Ajnal, Sukhni, Bakud and Ganjal rivers in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Aim

  • Protect the topsoil of the region from different types of erosion.
  • Add to the groundwater table of the region to develop the availability of water for agriculture and agroforestry.
  • Reduce the human-wildlife interaction to prevent losses due to the conflict.
  • Provide greener pastures for the herbivores to prevent the destruction of crops.
  • Absorption of carbon dioxide to improve the overall environmental conditions.

Why trees?

Trees act as windbreaks and protect the valuable topsoil from erosion, which in turn retains the fertility of the soil thereby aiding in agriculture and providing with a good produce, according to Clive David, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources. The State Government of Victoria stresses on the contribution of trees in groundwater recharge. The FAO mentions the importance of tree in contributing to the protection of soil and improving it' quality leading to good crops and food security. The Guardian mentions the importance of tree in pest control and soil nourishment. Thus to improve the agricultural output as well a the overall environment of an area, trees are extremely important. 

Flora

Teak (Tectona grandis)

The teak is a large, deciduous tropics tree. The teak plantation is widely established throughout the tropics due to its multi-dimensional agro-environmental benefits. Plantation of the teak is beneficial in protection of water and soil resources by reducing bulk density, increasing the availability of nutrients and producing and storing more organic material. Teak has the highest capacity for carbon sequestration among trees in India. Because of its limited closure of the species canopy, teak enables farmers to diversify production, reduce farm risk, contribute to food security and generate income opportunity. Most farmers plant teak amongst agricultural crops, this intercropping system is called as taugnya or tumpangsari.

Bamboo (Bambusa spp.)

Bamboo is a fast-growing species having an average height of 20-30mtr. Bamboo grows best along the river banks or valleys with a fertile, moist soil. Plantation of Bamboo will function as carbon sinks, provide organic matter, regulate water levels in watersheds. Bamboo is a sustainable resource because it’s vegetation spreads which allows the formation of forests much faster compared to other tree species. Moreover, a bamboo plantation in and around crop fields creates bio-fence which is helpful in tackling human-wildlife conflict. Unlike other types of commercial forestry crops where trees must be clear-cut and replanted, in bamboo plantations only mature stems are harvested while younger stems are left untouched to mature and develop.

Impact

Plantation of native trees along the riverbanks could be the most effective restoration project enhancing the overall ecological health and ecosystem services.

The trees planted will help to reduce the risk of flooding, act as a security for the farmers’ crops, helps conserving the soil and will help to rejuvenate water table of the banks. Trees planted will provide shade, clean the soil and filter the water percolating through it by absorbing chemicals and other pollutants. It will also be beneficial in reducing the harmful effects of concentrated industrial, chemical wastes and control surface runoff.

Carbon management in forest plantation is the single most important agenda of our time in the context of the greenhouse gas effect and mitigation of climate change effects. Teak has the highest capacity for carbon sequestration among trees in India. A teak in its lifetime with a girth of 10-30cms can absorb 3.70 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Moreover, because of its limited canopy closure and straight stump, physical conditions for intercropping agroforestry can be moderated. Teak has a relatively longer life cycle, even after its maturity when it diminishes power to sequester carbon dioxide, locals can be benefited by using the teak timber locking its carbon content instead of releasing back into the atmosphere.

Similarly, Bamboo is known to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world, with a growth rate ranging from 30-100cms per day in the growing season. The fast-growing character of bamboo makes it a perfect solution for alleviating many environmental and social crisis including consequences of tropical deforestation. Bamboo can form a closely woven mat of roots and rhizomes underground, which are effective in holding soil to strengthen agroforestry ground. The bamboo forest ecosystem is an important part of the forest ecosystem and a prime source of carbon sink on earth. Bamboo can supplement in promoting alternatives livelihood option in terms of Bamboo-crafts to the two major tribal groups the Gond and Korku in the range. Additionally, as the bamboo grows in clumps it creates a natural fence which will control crop raiding by wild animals into the crop fields.



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