Last year Maharashtra state government planted more than 2 crore saplings. Lacks of citizens took part in the drive, as Indians are now becoming very sensitive to the impact of deforestation. In my other articles , I have elaborated the reasons of the deteriorating health of mother earth. I also have shared with you the main reason for this and what solutions can be implemented on long term and short term basis.
The Problem Statement
Today in this article, we focus on plantation, and how to involve people from villages in protecting and growing the trees. Plating a tree is very easy and is a task of hardly not more than 10 minutes for a volunteer. However, unless we have tools in place to make sure that the planted trees are taken care, are protected from forest fires, cattle, etc, this plantation drives will not succeed. And to protect, preserve the plantation, we need active participation of locals. Locals can play vital role in protecting the plantation.
However, engaging the locals in preserving the plantation is the most difficult task. Locals, villagers face also also day to day life issues. They find it difficult to meet the ends of their daily needs. Needs like food, proteins, nutrition, health, medical expenses, community expenses like wedding of sons and daughters, shelter, etc. These locals do not need luxuries, or materialistic life style. Their needs are very basic. And villagers spend most of their time in meetig the needs only. Though difficult, making locals play important role in such drives not impossible.
In order to increase their involvement in such plantation protection, we(Environmentalists, NGOs, CSR leaders, Govt officers, political representatives) must choose plants which we can link with locals financial needs. We need to some Short goals and some mid term and some life long.
1. Short term goals-
Plant trees, which can start giving economical returns in less than 3 years time. In this category, the selection of plants should medicinal shrubs like Shikekai, Ritha, Ashwgandha, Wawdingi, musal, etc. There are more than 500 species of such herbs and shrubs , that can be grown in natural environment of western ghats. These shrubs dont need watering in summer. They survive solely on water when it rains. This paticular goal, though said as short goal, is not short term literaly. The economic output can be achieved in comparatively very less period of time, however, once starts, the output can be taken life long.
2. Mid term goals –
Plant trees which can start giving economic out put in period less than 5 to 6 years. Like first category, these plants also dont need watering in summer. Only things we must take care is that, protecting them from forest fire. The most suitable plant is Bamboo. Bamboo is normally harvested 3 years after it comes out of the soil. The propagation is auto and once it starts giving the output, there is no end. It can be harvested for generations. with no cost of maintenance, this particular plant is like a cash crop for locals. Govt should alot area of stipulated dimension to farmers, farm laborers so that they would protect their area from forest fires. We can have other plants also in this category in order to meet the periodic needs of locals. ex fire wood, wood for construction, etc.
3. Life long goal –
Plant trees which give output after a considerable period of 8 to 10 years. Trees, again Jackfruit, Aalu, karavanda, Jamun,
wild mango, Sagwan, teakwood,Sandal, trees with specific usage, like the one which are used in making musical instruments, etc. I would like give an example of Karawanda shrubs here. A woman on an average earns 500 Rs every day, in the month of April and May only by picking karawands in the jungle.(Example is from a village near Nisargshala campsite)
Villagers need to be educated on the economic associated with Jungle. Once grown, the Jungles can give them employment, wood, shelter, medicines and the world would get forests.