Trees for Tigers

Ramtek, Maharashtra, India

Project Purpose
Trees for Forests & Wildlife

Location
Plantation of local tree species on the Community lands of Dulara village on the buffer zone of Pench Tiger Reserve, Ramtek Taluka, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

Aim

  • To develop the habitat of the tiger population residing in the region by creating a robust buffer area around Pench National Park, preventing roadkills.
  • To provide the fauna in this region with proper food, shelter, and protection.
  • To reduce man-animal conflict which is being presently caused due to habitat fragmentation and inequitable use of forest resources.
  • To provide the community of Dulara with Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) as a major source of income and promote sustainable livelihood methods.
  • To promote nature-based tourism in the area.

Why trees?
Trees form a very important part of the tiger’s natural habitat as well as the economy of the area. The importance of trees has been highlighted in Sandeep Sharma’s seminal work, studying the tiger populations in Central India - ‘Biologist and International Research Specialist at the Smithsonian Institution’, where he also mentioned, “Tigers (Panthera tigris) are the apex predator of Asian forest ecosystems. They are a conservation-dependent species, whose survival requires a sufficient quantity of large prey and vast swaths of contiguous forest habitat”.  World Wildlife Fund India (WWF) in its report, ‘Lifeline for Tigers, 2014’ has mentioned the major ecological challenges pertaining to the Pench-Kanha area such as wildlife loss due to developmental activities, human-animal conflict and resource exploitation, making replenishment of the tree cover in this region an indispensable part of the conservation process. Forest-based livelihoods form a major part of the employment opportunities available around Dulara. Due to the dearth of other sources of income and a decline in forest cover, poverty is rampant in the area. The plantation of trees on community land with the help of our plantation partner, BDBGVS will ensure access to forest produces in the future. Apart from providing a good source of income to the people of the region, carefully selected species will be a source of indigenous medicine to the tribal communities who have poor access to good healthcare facilities, while also acting as gene banks and carbon sequestration units.

Tree Species
The forest type in the area is Tropical Mixed Deciduous, according to scientists at the National Remote Sensing Centre. The local tree species to be planted include Custard Apple (Annona squamosa), Drumstick (Moringa oleifera), Kashid (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Lemon (Citrus limon), Pomegranate (Punica granatum), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), Karanj (Millettia pinnata), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana), Babool (Vachellia nilotica), and Bamboo (Bambuseae).

Social Impact
In his paper, ‘Opportunities of Habitat Connectivity for Tiger (Panthera tigris) between Kanha and Pench National Parks in Madhya Pradesh, India’, Chinmaya S. Rathore of the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal speaks about the importance of tree plantation in restoration of the Kanha-Pench corridor, promotion of nature-based tourism, and integration of the local communities in the process for it to impact tiger conservation efforts. The project has been carried out on public lands, wherein the community will be able to utilise the NTFPs like fruits, tendu leaves, twigs, and fodder. The beneficiaries are mostly women, who say the project has empowered them as well as provided them with the option to work in the vicinity of their homes. The project involves 70 households, creating 3000 workdays for the labour-force, of which 70% are women.

The tribal population stands at almost 96% of the total population where the dependency on the forest-based industry is high. The project will discourage the villagers from participating in illegal activities, like poaching, by providing them with a steady source of income from the forest produce. It will deter wild animals such as wild boars, leopards and other wild cats from straying into human settlements and destroying personal property and croplands by developing a dense buffer zone. When fully mature, these trees will absorb 20 kgs of CO2 annually, contributing to carbon sequestration.

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Planters

Audit Excerpt for Ramtek, Maharashtra

Total saplings planted in the Ramtek district were 50,000 across Dulara village in 2018-19. The plantation of indigenous species like Drumsticks, Custard Apple, Neem, Amla, Shisham, Jamun, etc. in this region of the state will not only benefit the environment, and the wildlife but also the rural communities by adding an additional stream of revenue to their income. Saplings are selected according to the ecological condition and observing the success ratio of the local species surviving there. Grow-Trees planting partner, in areas of adverse survival conditions, adopted the strategy of 1+3 plantation, wherein one main sapling is planted along with 3 seeds of the local species which are successful in surviving the given ecological conditions. Saplings were planted more than the planned plantation to maintain the mortality ratio. These multiple efforts have ensured the survival rate of 95.9%.

The planting has been carried out as per the plan and the number of saplings physically verified agrees with the number of saplings planted (as per the report of Grow-Trees planting partner). We are of the opinion that looking to the steps taken by Grow-Trees planting partner, i.e., location of the site, encouragement to planting and positive response from the villagers to grow, nurture and monitor the planting, the result of the activity will be affirmative.

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