M.P. focuses on reviving threatened tree species

Forest dept. has planted 70 lakh saplings to combat climate change, support livelihoods

January 19, 2020 01:32 am | Updated 01:32 am IST - Bhopal

Saplings of dahiman, a threatened indigenous species, being prepared at a nursery of the forest department in Bhopal.

Saplings of dahiman, a threatened indigenous species, being prepared at a nursery of the forest department in Bhopal.

In a marked shift from the British-era focus on high-value timber to indigenous species having traditional value, the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department in 2019 planted 70 lakh saplings of such threatened tree species in a bid to revive biodiversity, support livelihoods and combat climate change.

Largest forest cover

With around a quarter of its area under forests, Madhya Pradesh, according to the India State of Forest Report, 2019, has the largest forest cover of 77,482.49 sq. km in the country. And of the 216 naturally occurring tree species in the State, 32 face the threat of extinction, said P.C. Dubey, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Research and Extension Wing.

Under working plans prepared by 11 locals units across the State, the threatened species were identified as having less than 1% of cover in forests, based on surveys in 300-400 plots of 0.1 hectare each selected randomly in each district. Moreover, the wing collated data based on field studies and reviewed third-party studies by research institutes.

A species was deemed threatened also due to the present threat and future threat perception to it, explained Mr. Dubey, adding that saplings were nurtured in government-run nurseries in their local conditions.

‘Local situations’

When reasons for the scant availability of a species, and its low density and germination rate are local, reads the plan document, there is a need to find solutions in local situations too.

The threatened species include bija, having high timber and fodder value, used to cure diabetes and make concussion equipment; tinsa, used to improve fertility in women; salai, producing resin and gum; and dahiman, used to cure high blood pressure.

“We plan to revive the traditional wisdom as well as boost livelihoods with the involvement of locals, in line with the State Forest Policy, 2005 and State vision document,” said Mr. Dubey.

The species, being revived in compliance with International Union for Conservation of Nature guidelines, could also withstand harsh climatic conditions, and vagaries of nature, thereby proving useful to combat climate change and mitigate its effects, added Mr. Dubey.

Lack of awareness

Lack of awareness on the traditional importance of the species was a major reason for their endangerment, he claimed. “Besides, the British and the department for too long focused on timber of greater economic value like sal. For the first time in the country, we have taken initiative in identifying species under threat and taking steps to protect them. Now, at least 10% of all plantations in the State will have the species under threat.”

The department has also drafted a gum and resin policy for value addition and grading of the products benefiting locals.

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