Trees+ for Villagers
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Available for Adoption: 50,000 Trees plus Enlargement of Pond CapacityProject Purpose
Trees for Rural Communities
- To facilitate the basic needs of the rural communities that are dependent on the forest
- To enhance the socio-economic status of the rural communities by providing alternate means of resources and employment with the plantation of NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Produce)
- To conserve the soil by checking surface-runoff and wind erosion
- To conserve the water table by holding the water in the soil and helping in improving drought conditions
- To revive a traditional water harvesting pond by the de-siltation process at the Bundelkhand area
About the Pond
The project involves enlarging an existing pond in Budhawali Village (2011 population: 1,598 people in 262 households) behind the local school and about 100 metres from the nearest point in our planting site, from a capacity of about 700,000 liters to a capacity of 2,000,000 liters. De-siltation provided an estimated 1,600 trollies of rich topsoil which were distributed to the local farmers to help them increase their output in the short term.
It rains for about 44.3 days in a year in the Jhansi region, mainly in the monsoon months, June to September, with August being the rainiest month and a total average of 891.3 mm (35.1 inches). Currently, surface water in rivers and shallow ponds dries up by the end of winter, creating water scarcity for villagers for the post-winter months till the next monsoon, typically about 4 months. During this period, villagers, their livestock and wildlife face great hardship from lack of easy access to water. The pond, which is based on surface runoff of water, will be enlarged to a length of 82 meters, width of 80 meters and depth of 1.50 meter; going deeper beyond the silt layer would reduce longevity of the pond through greater percolation. After the enlargement, the water pond should be able to suffice the needs of the villagers throughout the year. In the longer run, the pond will be co-managed by the village Panchayat and the Watershed Development Community.
Other expected outcomes from enlargement of the pond include:
- At least 700 small farms will be directly benefitted by improved water security, resulting in the stabilizing of Kharif crops.
- Over 50% of the local farmers will also get additional benefit of water for Rabi cultivation due to increased scope of irrigation; the double-cropped area will increase by about 40-50%, increasing the farmers' incomes
- Crop productivity is likely to increase by about 30-40% due to the layering of fertile soil on over 400 farms
The identified project location in Bundelkhand region is situated among the Indo-Gangetic plains on the Vindhyan hilly tracts in Central India. The region suffers from several limitations, mainly high vulnerability of natural calamities and poor infrastructural development, which has made agricultural productivity very low and livelihood uncertain. The region is characterized as drought-prone and resource-poor from an agricultural point of view. According to the 'Challenges of Natural and Human Hazards' published by Shodhganga, "Drought induced disaster is a serious issue in Bundelkhand region. The occurrence of drought in vulnerable and fragile ecosystem is more alarming as compared to plain areas." Another article in 'Down to Earth' stated that "Drought in Bundelkhand region of central India has been a matter of concern for decades. A new study by National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM)...shows that droughts are not a result of just climatic conditions, but also man-made." The article also mentions a statement by Anil K Gupta, associate professor at NIDM and principal investigator of the study, "The usual pattern is that first the meteorological drought—rainfall much below average—happens. It leads to agricultural drought in the same year because India depends on monsoons for agricultural production. If the meteorological drought continues for the second consecutive year, then the hydrological drought—below average water availability—occurs," The cycle needs to be broken.
The region demands immediate action in order to enhance and then maintain the living standards of the villagers. These trees along with the enlargement of pond will help to support the basic needs of the villagers and gradually heal the natural resources as well. "Trees have been an integral part of humans’ lifestyle and livelihood security for centuries in India. Along with the several environmental advantages from trees like improved groundwater level, checking top-soil erosion, and improving wildlife habitats, trees will create diverse employment opportunities to the locals in the drought-prone Bundelkhand region with harvesting, collection and processing of the forest products. Rural communities of Bundelkhand region shows high level of dependency on local forest produces for sustaining their livelihood" (Trees for Life, S B Chavan et. al.). The multi-faceted benefits and services generated from tree-based systems are recognized as a tool to improve the socio-environmental status of these forest- dependent inhabitants.
The area is characterized by a dry climate, and in consequence, the dry tropical species of vegetation capable of sustaining on low rainfall predominate the region. The forests of the area can be broadly divided into three types, the dry miscellaneous forests, thorn forests, and dry tropical scrub forests. The species to be planted are chosen according to their suitability to the project area, improving alternative livelihood options, fruit, and fodder and economic potential for broader outcomes both in terms of socio-economic and environmental aspects.
The project includes the plantation of resistant local species such as Chironji (Buchanania lanzan), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Guava (Psidium guajava), Mango (Mangifera indica), Drumstick (Moringa oleifera), Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris), Karonda (Carissa carandas), Lemon (Citrus limon), Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana), Kino (Pterocarpus marsupium), Palash (Butea monosperma), and Peepal (Ficus religiosa).
The plantation of the right local tree species can be an effective way to address the socio-environmental challenge by reclaiming wasteland and converting degraded lands into forests. Locals' dependency on the dwindling forest resources can be reduced with improved produce from the trees and fodder for livestock. Enhanced forest area will help to rehabilitate key wildlife habitat, thus opening prospects for Wildlife tourism. Improved wildlife habitat with fruit and fodder species will have significance in addressing Human-wildlife conflict mostly in terms of livestock depredation, contributing to safeguarding the sensitive rural economy. Above all, the plantation of 50,000 local trees will help in improving the water table, check top-soil erosion, increase carbon sequestration, and generate local employment with household-level participation in implementing and monitoring of the project and in improving the ecosystem services. These trees, along with the pond enlargement, will further help in enhancing the soil nutrients, making it better for agricultural purposes. The water from the pond will be able to reach more people and assist them in irrigation. Cumulatively, the project will enhance sustainable employment avenues for the rural communities, uplifting them socially and economically.