"India has two biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. Sikkim covers just 0.2% of the geographical area of the country but is teeming with floral and faunal diversity and many plant species that are rare and endangered. We owe it to ourselves to protect them all"
A social organisation is undertaking a massive afforestation campaign to protect the northeast from the perils of degraded green zones and depleting biodiversity
The recent floods in Kerala have once again brought the collective focus back on the increasing frequency of natural disasters and the importance of reducing disaster risk and the loss of lives, livelihoods, and health.
"As a developing nation, we must take real action to address climate change because climate-related disasters will impact us far more, be it in the context of mortality numbers, displacement of communities, or economic losses," says Bikrant Tiwary, CEO, Grow-Trees.com.
"Trees are our strongest allies in fighting climate change and averting extreme weather events," he added.
For more than a decade now, Grow-Trees.com has initiated long-term afforestation projects in areas that need them the most, and in recent times, the organisation has focused its attention upon the northeast- especially Sikkim.
"Over the last few years, Sikkim has seen a depletion of its natural resources and that is why we are working on afforestation projects to restore, replenish and repair what we can," Tiwary further said.
"It should be a matter of concern for all that the Northeast regions have seen a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 765 sq km," he added.
"Our projects are trying to address this depletion, enhance biodiversity, achieve carbon sequestration, promote ecotourism, and improve wildlife habitats," he reiterated.
"As a biogeographic zone, Sikkim boasts rich plant diversity, varied plant communities, and a forest ecosystem that influences the socio-economic as well as ecological wellbeing of rural communities. Rural populations, in particular, depend on wood, fodder, and other organic byproducts of thriving forest life. Thanks to acute anthropogenic pressure, increasing demands for wood, fuel, and fodder, trees are now cut faster than they can be planted," he further added.
"That is why we are working towards eco-restoration of degraded zones and systematically planting indigenous tree species that will also help replenish groundwater and improve habitats for both human and animal populations. Afforestation is critical for the protection of forest resources, livelihoods, and the agriculture of the state," he reiterated.
Trees for Himalayan Biodiversity
The project is offering over 34,000 trees for adoption and is planting over 16,000 indigenous tree saplings at schools, monasteries, and reserve forest areas in Dalapchand and Aritar Gram Panchayat, East Sikkim. From timbre rich trees to fruit-bearing and flowering and non-flowering plants, the afforestation project will cover the whole gamut. Unwanted weeds and invasive species will be replaced by native trees that will also act as a bio-fence to restrict animal movement outside forests. Additionally, about 1,000 workdays of employment will be generated for locals through nursery raising, plantation, and monitoring.
Trees for Himalayan Forests
This project targets the Pakyong district of Sikkim. Over 15,000 trees, including herbal species, are being planted across Pakyong, East Sikkim. The goal is to enhance the rich variety of flora and fauna, now under threat because of large-scale infrastructure development.
Like all the projects undertaken by Grow-Trees.com, this too will generate more than 1,200 employment workdays for the local communities and incentivize eco-tourism practices in an ecologically fragile region of India in Sikkim.
"India has two biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas. Sikkim covers just 0.2% of the geographical area of the country but is teeming with floral and faunal diversity and many plant species that are rare and endangered. We owe it to ourselves to protect them all," Tiwary added.
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