Trees for Ecotourism
Zuluk (Dzaluk), Sikkim, India
Project PurposeTrees for the Himalayas™
Plant Now Location
The plantation project is being carried out in the reserve forest regions of Chandaney, Toribari, Chandara, Dewling, Paasting, and Sudunuglakha in East Sikkim, in and around the Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a variety of animals. As a result, there have been numerous instances of indirect human-wildlife conflict in the area. Along the border, several animals, such as Himalayan Black Bears, can be observed damaging the crops of the locals. The decrease in fruiting species within the forest is directly related to the increase in human-wildlife conflict. As a result, planting trees aid in the promotion of selected fruiting species, ensuring that animal demand is met within their habitat. It also helps in the stabilisation of the local agro-economy by ensuring the safety of the farmers’ agricultural produce.
This wildlife reserve is home to the state animal, Red Panda, as well as other animal species such as the Asiatic Black Bear, Yellow-Throated Marten, Red Fox, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Striped Squirrel. According to two photographs captured by forest officials' camera traps, a Bengal Tiger has also been spotted in the sanctuary. According to the region's DFO, the camera captured two photographs of the tiger near Goru Jurey, at an altitude of 9,583 feet. Another Snow Leopard was photographed in the same area in January 2019. Planting additional trees could assist enhance the habitat of animals that are constantly under pressure for food, shelter, and protection from predators. A large-scale plantation project is an efficient strategy to prevent further ecological degradation and habitat loss. The planted species also provide a variety of other functions, including animal repellant, feed, livelihood diversification, and biodiversity advantages.
The Pangolakha Wildlife Reserve is a popular destination for adventure seekers. The Rachela trekking route is located within its periphery. Visitors' interest in bird-watching, nature walks, and nature photography is growing, so improving forest health will have a significant impact on promoting alternative tourism and improving local livelihood, which is a win-win situation in terms of socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural factors. The addition of flowering plants to the landscape enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of both visitors and residents. The planting of fruiting and flowering species has helped to secure and improve bird habitats.
Apiculture is an alternative livelihood practised by the inhabitants residing in the plantation area. Bees will pollinate those flowers, resulting in higher honey production. As a result, increasing the number of indigenous floral plants encourages beekeeping, which allows people to supplement their income as an alternative source of income.
The upper storey vegetation of the identified project location consists mainly of trees like Castonopsis spp., Machilus spp., Rhododendron spp., Michelia spp. Species such as Eurya spp., Viburnum spp., Litsea spp., Bucklandia spp., among other associates are dominant in the under-storey.
Species selected for plantation include flowering plants like Gurash (Rhododendron sp.), Phalado (Erythrina indica) non-flowering plants like Dhuppi (Dwarf Dhuppi), fruiting plants like Naspati (Pear), Arucha (Plum), Jackfruit, Guava, Mango, Timber plants like Chandan (Daphnephyllum sp.), Kapasey (Acer sp.), Uttish (Alnus nepalensis .), Arupatey (Prunus nepalensis ), Kajal (Bischofia javanica ), Chekrashey (Symingtoria sp.), Kimbu (Morus laevigata ), Lakuri and Gogun ( Sauravia nepalensis ).
Recorded faunal species from the area include the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Golden Jackal (Canis aureus), Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), Asiatic Black Bear (Selenarctos himalayanus), Himalayan Palm Civet (Paguma larvata), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) and Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjac).
This project will facilitate the conversion of degraded land into primary forests with indigenous tree plantations. It will help in the replacement of undesirable weeds and invasive species with valuable local trees that would improve the overall ecosystem of the selected region while also improving wildlife habitat by providing more trees, fruits, fodder, and shelter. The trees will also operate as a bio-fence, limiting animal movement outside of the forest, preventing crop destruction in farmlands and protecting the local economy.
In 1995, the Government of Sikkim banned green felling in forests, and in 1998, it outlawed grazing in restricted forest areas, plantation regions, and water supply areas. Sikkim's government outlawed the collecting of timber and NTFPs in 1999. Though the green cover has expanded as a result of these laws, on-ground inspection has revealed that a lot of undesired, invasive weeds have also increased in parallel. Invasive weeds such as Banmara (Lantana camara), Kalijhar (Eupatorium spp), and Kalamey unew (Tracheophyta spp) can be found in the region, hampering the ecosystem and biodiversity. As a result, this plantation project attempts to replace those invasive species with primary local species such as local Cherry (Prunus cerasoides), Ambakey (Quercus leucotrichophora), Kharaney (Symplocos theifolia), Bhadrasey (Elaeocarpus sikkimensis), Lopsi (Spondias axillaris), etc.
The planting of trees generates employment for the state's rural and tribal people, including women’s self-help groups. Indigenous communities are the best informed about their forests, which is why they are encouraged to participate in plantation activities, from pit digging to tree upkeep after the trees have reached maturity. Upon maturity, each tree can absorb approximately 20kg of CO2 per year which is considered globally as a conservative estimate for sequestration potential of trees.