Need for Afforestation With increasing population and growing consumerism, there has been severe pressure on food production and employment generation, particularly in agro-based development countries like India. This has had a direct impact on deforestation, increase in soil erosion and run off of rain water, resulting in depletion of natural resources and environmental pollution. Simultaneously, increasing use of fossil fuel for industrial production, power generation and automobiles has accelerated the emission of green house gases (GHGs) which are responsible for global warming and climate change. The negative impacts of global warming are far more serious in India due to prolonged droughts, rising sea level and melting of snow caps of the Himalayas thereby affecting steady supply of water to major rivers of North India and our food security. To reverse this trend, it is necessary to reduce the emission of GHGs, while taking up massive afforestation to serve as carbon dioxide sink and for supporting rural livelihood.
Trees have a significant role in keeping the environment clean, while supporting the livelihood. Over 43% of the cooking energy in the world is met from biomass. In rural areas, where 65% of the population lives, biomass is the only accessible and affordable source of energy. In the developing countries, the average per capita consumption of biomass in rural areas is equivalent to a ton of wood per annum and 50% of the wood cut in the world is used for fuel (Hall and de Groot, 1985). More than 2 billion people in the Third World are dependent on biomass to meet their energy needs which is equivalent to 22 million barrels of oil every day. In 1979, about 68.5% of the total rural energy was met from wood in India. In 2000, the annual demand for wood in the Indian rural sector was 192.6 million tons while it was difficult to meet even 50% of it from the available sources. This indicates the extent of damage caused to the natural forests. Most of the rural people have been dependent on Government-owned forests and community woodlots, which are under severe
Commissioned Paper. 2010. Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). Constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, New Delhi. www.westernghatsindia.org
pressure and vanishing rapidly. Thus, deforestation has been severely affecting the ecosystem and economy in India as well.
Presently, only about 12% of the geographical area in the country is under close forests as against the stipulated forest cover of 33% required for maintaining an ecological balance (Anonymous 1989). To solve the energy crisis, the strategy is to promote production, and ensure judicious use of wood energy which will indirectly conserve our forests. This calls for improving the existing forests through people’s participation and increasing the area under forest cover even on non-forest lands, by bringing available barren and wastelands under afforestation. It is estimated that India has about 80-100 million ha of denuded forests and wastelands, which are neither put to any productive use nor considered for conservation. As such, these denuded lands have been accelerating soil erosion, wastage of rainwater and loss of bio-diversity, contributing to global warming.
Social Forestry – A Drive for People’s Participation With the background of developing private and non-forest public wastelands under afforestation while protecting the natural forests, the Government of India introduced several people-oriented afforestation schemes in the early 1950s. However, the activity gained significance only during the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) under social forestry, as a powerful tool to generate sustainable livelihood for rural people. To support this programme, afforestation was introduced under various development schemes such as Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Scheme (RLEGS), National Rural Employment Programme (NREP), Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS), Drought Prone Programme (DPAP), Western Ghats Development Scheme, etc. In the 1980s, all the State Governments had set up a separate wing either in the Forest Department or in the Department of Social Forestry to operate social forestry schemes. Various schemes such as development of community woodlots on public lands, establishment of decentralised kisan nurseries for free distribution of seedlings and promotion of tree plantations on marginal agricultural lands were launched with huge financial support. The objective was to increase the supply of fuelwood, bamboo, small timbers and fodder, while generating rural employment and maintaining environmental stability. The strategy was to grow fuelwood closer to the consumption points. Among various afforestation activities under social forestry,
raising block plantations in the form of village woodlots on community lands, degraded forests and wastelands was the major programme. Such plantations aimed at reducing the hardship of women and children, who travel long distances in search of fuelwood. The remaining 30% of the programme included raising of seedlings for free distribution to farmers and schools. The focus was on fodder and fuelwood production.
Based on the recommendations of the National Commission on Agriculture (1976), the Sixth Five Year Plan focussed on the production of fodder, fuel, small timber, minor forests produce and industrial raw materials under the social forestry programme. The theme was “Development without destruction”. The overall target of the Sixth Plan was to bring 1.65 million ha under tree cover. In addition to afforestation on community wastelands, 37.25 million seedlings were distributed free for establishing farm forestry. Simultaneously, production forestry was also given a boost to bring 0.62 million ha under industrial wood plantations. Except for farm forestry, the other programmes could not make a significant impact because the objective of meeting the basic needs of fodder, fuel and timber of the local participants could not be fulfilled.
Looking at the drawbacks of the Sixth Plan, the Seventh Plan (1985-89) introduced a new programme with the theme “Forest for Survival” for expanding rural fuelwood plantations with the involvement of NGOs. In 1985, the National Wastelands Development Board (NWDB) was established to increase tree and other green cover on wastelands with a target of 5 million ha coverage every year, while promoting fuel and fodder plantation to meet local needs. NWDB intended to coordinate soil and water conservation, dryland farming, fodder development and conservation of land resources to prevent desertification as well. To popularise afforestation, various innovative schemes were also launched and significant among them were decentralised plant nurseries for distributing among small farmers, cultivation of fodder, fuelwood and round timber species through Forest Development Corporations, fuelwood plantation on urban wastelands, production of industrial raw materials on Government-owned wastelands and leasing revenue wastelands to poor for growing trees, etc. In 1988-89, after observing the performance for 4 years, the programme was restructured to cover activities such as reclamation of wastelands through agro-forestry, silvipasture and farm forestry, involving small farmers.
Under NWDB, 7.18 million ha wastelands were brought under afforestation during the first 4 years of the Seventh Plan with a survival rate ranging from 43.6 to 70.4% (GoI, 1989). Many NGOs, public sector undertakings and cooperatives such as NDDB and IFFCO initiated various innovative schemes to promote afforestation on degraded lands. All these programmes heavily depended on People’s Participation for their success. Apart from planting and maintenance, cooperation from local people was also expected for protection of plantations from stray animals and illicit felling, until harvesting for ensuring equal distribution among the participant families. However, the outcome was not very encouraging. Only 9% villages were covered under the programme. Community wastelands were not easily available in many villages because either the Panchayats were not prepared to spare the lands or there were many encroachments. The outputs from fodder and fuel were very low as compared to the local needs. Hence, the benefits were not significant (NCAER, 1988). Poor rate of survival of saplings, poor growth, poor protection from livestock and trespassers were other factors which contributed to the failure. In many States, the focus was shifted from fodder and fuelwood species to species such as eucalyptus because of local demand, fast growth and protection from stray animals. With regard to employment generation, fodder and fuelwood plantations generated only 60-80 mandays/ha while farm forestry generated 600-800 days/ha. The wage rate under these schemes being low compared to the local wage rate, there was no enthusiasm among the poor to take active part in the fuelwood production programme (Saxena, 1988; 1989; Sathe, 1990).
To enhance people’s participation in tree planting programme, the schemes were modified to integrate livestock with forage production and shift from fuelwood production to income generation by introducing short rotation species with long rotation trees and timber species with fuelwood. Emphasis was laid on extension programmes to motivate local families to take active part in afforestation (Shingi, 1988, Deshpande etal, 1990, Singh, 1990). During 1980-88, the State Forest Departments across the country claimed that 20 billion seedlings were distributed for planting. This meant an average of 35,000 plants per village but there were hardly any villages with such significant number of trees in the country. This reflected the poor performance of social forestry schemes in the country. This failure could have been avoided if suitable tree species had been selected. Most of the farmers would have taken good care if species of their choice had been provided (Hegde, 1987). Lack of marketing arrangements was another weakness of the social forestry programme.
Interestingly, farm forestry scheme which was promoted by Forest Development Corporations and private paper and pulp mills by distributing seedlings of eucalyptus and other commercial species, had exceeded the target as the participants were motivated by the prospects of economic gains. Fast growth, high value for the produce, sustained demand from industries and existence of an easily accessible market were the reasons for the popularity of eucalyptus plantation (NCAER, 1988). Higher profitability due to higher rate of survival, short gestation period, higher yield, ready market, high value products like round wood, remunerative price, negligible impact on seasonal crops, easy management of labour, ease in protection and favourable Tax and Land Ceiling Acts were the other reasons for acceptance of eucalyptus by farmers (Gupta, 1990). Farm forestry introduced on agricultural lands as a substitute for low yielding food crops with species such as eucalyptus was also successful (Muranjan, 1988). Farmers also preferred farm forestry as it demanded only 120-140 mandays of labour ha/year while bajra, gram and other rainfed crops demanded about 120-130 mandays/ha crop in 3-4 months (Singh, 1985).
Choice of Tree Species for Private Lands Based on various social forestry projects implemented over the last 2-3 decades, it is clear that choice of species is the key to the success of any afforestation programme. When it comes to tree plantation on private lands, profitability is the main factor followed by other minor factors such as gestation period, demand for produce, level of investment, access to market, availability of planting material and specific local uses, which influence the farmers to select tree species for planting on their lands.
Selection of suitable species is the most important motivating factor for people’s participation as it influences the profitability. Tree planting on private lands is being carried out by the land owners either because they are convinced or motivated by some of the agencies engaged in promoting afforestation. There are very few farmers who take initiative in establishing plantations of new species, based on the information they have gathered about the utility and profitability of these species. However, most of the small farmers are driven by the publicity and attractive benefits as highlighted by the promoters, while selecting tree species for planting on their lands. The popularity of the species also varied from region to region, based on the demand for produce, marketing infrastructure, agro-climatic conditions, available inputs and the extent of awareness and publicity created by the programme implementing agencies.
Tree Species for Income Generation:In a study conducted in Pune and Nashik districts of Maharashtra, where multiple agencies were independently promoting tree planting, a majority of the farmers preferred growing fruit trees on their marginal and wastelands. This was followed by timber and round wood species. Among 35 most popular tree species promoted in the state, 18 species were grown for food, 8 for timber, 3 for fuelwood, 2 each for oil and ornamental purpose and 1 each for fodder and fibre. The most preferred among them were eucalyptus (Eucalyptus hybrid), mango (Mangifera indica), teak (Tectona grandis), custard apple (Annona squamosa) and jujubee (Zizyphus mauritiana). The list of these species with their popularity rank is presented in Table 1 (Hegde, 1991). This preference is based on the profitability as well as market demand for the produce and field publicity. However, eucalyptus was the most popular species because of reasons other than high returns. First of all, eucalyptus had good demand as round wood in the local market. Any wood that was not sold as pole was purchased by paper and pulp mills at the site. In addition to assured demand, easy marketability and an attractive price, eucalyptus is a fast growing, non-browsing, coppicing species with a short harvesting cycle and well adapted to adverse agro-climatic conditions. Being one of the few species promoted by the wood-based industries, it has received wide publicity. Other tree species cultivated in India on a commercial scale under farm forestry by farmers are casuarina in coastal areas and poplar (Populus deltoides) which is confined to Northern India, beyond latitude 28o N.
In interior areas, where marketing facilities for wood were inadequate, farmers preferred to grow fruit crops and used existing market outlets for selling their produce. Thus, about 50% of tree selected were fruit species. Among fruit trees, seedlings of custard apple, jujubee (ber), tamarind, jambolina, drumstick, jackfruit, cashew, Indian gooseberry, wood apple and bullock's heart (Annona raticulata) were raised by farmers in decentralised rural nurseries while other species such as mango, guava, pomegranate, coconut, mandarin, orange and sapota were raised in commercial nurseries promoted by the Horticulture Department. Most of the farmers did not mention any other species although there were many with high income potential because there was neither any publicity nor availability of the planting materials locally.
The farmers were also confident of selling timber of eight species, namely eucalyptus, teak, chinaberry (melia), leucaena (subabul), portia (bhindi), casuarina, bamboo and shishum in local markets. Three fuelwood species preferred by the farmers were Ramkathi acacia(Acacia nilotica var. cupressiformis), Gum acacia(Acacia nilotica var. telia) and Australian acacia(Acacia auriculiformis). The former two species are native to Maharashtra and used as fuel and timber, while the latter has been introduced only recently. Five other species selected by the respondents were gulmohar(Delonix regia), Ashoka(Polyalthia pendula), neem(Azadirachta indica), sandalwood(Santalum album) and agave(Agave sisalana). Of these, the former two were planted as ornamental, the other two for oil and agave shrub for fibre. Sesbania (Sesbania sesban) is the only fodder species, although other multipurpose species like subabul, andShishumcould yield fodder to some extent. Neem is an excellent species as a source of oilseed and biopesticide and drought tolerant. However, farmers did not prefer neem as there was no attractive market for selling the seeds and they also lacked awareness about its yield and profitability.
Table 1. Choice of Tree Species by Land holders of Different Categories
* T -Timber, F-Food, Fo-Fodder, Fu-Fuel, Fi-Fibre, Oi-Oil, O-Ornamental
The small holders had shown preference for fruit species, while the medium and large holders preferred timber species. Inspite of its popularity among farmers, it was surprising to observe that eucalyptus was not the most profitable species promoted under social forestry in India. This indicated that with wider publicity and market linkages and in the absence of knowledge on better alternatives, farmers are often influenced in making wrong judgments (Hegde, 1991).
Profitability of Tree Species:The benefit-cost analysis of 14 important fruit and timber species based on the data collected from farmers is presented in Table 2. While pole timber such as melia, eucalyptus, leucaena, bamboo and portia start generating income from the third year, sesbania starts generating income through fodder during the first year itself and completes its economic life in 2-3 years. Melia, leucaena and eucalyptus coppice well and thus, the plantations can be maintained to harvest 3-4 crops. Portia trees are pollarded at an interval of three years and maintained for 20-25 years. Harvesting of bamboo starts in the third year and continues every year for about 20-25 years. While leucaena and eucalyptus have good demand as pulpwood, melia and portia are used as poles for housing and agricultural implements with limited demand.
Drumstick starts fruiting from the second year and continues to provide income for 10-15 years. Fruit trees like jujubee, custard apple, mango and cashew start fruiting from third year while tamarind starts producing fruits after 7-8 years. Neem starts fruiting after 7-8 years and continues for 75-100 years, yielding 50-100 kg seeds every year. As these species have different gestation period and various uses, it is extremely difficult for common farmers to take a quick decision about planting them. However, as all these species except neem, mango, cashew and tamarind, can be planted on field bunds without affecting arable crops, farmers do not mind planting these species if some support is given in the form of free seedlings and inputs. If they have to establish a sole plantation on good lands using their own resources, then they will certainly explore more about investment and profitability before taking a final decision.
Among the above species, portia was the most profitable (Rs.52,000), followed by teak, drumstick, leucaena, melia, sesbania, eucalyptus, bamboo, custard apple, mango and neem. It is interesting to observe that except in certain districts of Maharashtra, by and large, farmers are not aware about the management of portia to induce poles and the use of poles as light wood for agricultural implements.
All the 14 tree species listed in Table 2 were most popular because of easy marketability of the produce and higher return. The popularity among these species varied from district to district based on local use, availability of planting material and extension efforts. There are many other species which can produce timber (White siris, siris, shishum, White teak), fruits (citrus, guava, sapota, coconut, jackfruit, jamun, kokum, oil seeds (pongamia and mahua) and other non-wood produce (Indian gooseberry, myrobalan, and soap nut) which can be promoted for cultivation, if cost-benefit analysis is carried out and silvicultural practices are standardised. Even neem
Table 2: Analysis of Income (in Rs.) from different Species
Name of the Species
No. of trees/
* Income from wood not included ** According to prices of 1989-90
can be profitable, if plants of elite genotypes, multiplied vegetatively are used for planting and the seeds are processed for bio-pesticide production. Likewise, many non-wood product species having different uses such as edible products, oil, gum, resin, wax, pesticides, tan, dyes, fibre, soap and medicines can be profitable, if plants produced through vegetative propagation are used for establishment and the produce is processed for value addition.
As compared to the economics of fruit and timber species, production of fuelwood is least attractive because the net annual income per ha is only about Rs.347/-. Thus, it is not attractive for farmers to grow fuelwood species inspite of intensive programme promotion and heavy incentives. If a ton of wood is sold for fuel, it would fetch only Rs.1000/-. The same wood when sold as pulpwood would fetch 50% more and as round timber, 200% more. When the wood is used as timber either for construction or furniture, it would fetch 400-500% higher price. In such a situation, naturally farmers would prefer species with higher returns. Under Social Forestry Programme, the poor farmers were persuaded to plant fuelwood and fodder, while large farmers had the option to grow wood for round timber, paper and pulp. Thus, unknowingly, there was discrimination and the poor were left out of an excellent opportunity to earn more from the programme. This was the major reason for lack of people’s participation and failure of many projects, which were intended for the benefit of the poor.
Preference for different Tree Species:While calculating the profitability of different tree species, it is necessary to take their entire life cycle and convert into annual returns. For instance, teak and many timber trees mature after 60-100 years, while the round timber species are ready for harvest at the age of 15 to 30 years. Pulpwood will be ready in 4-6 years and fuelwood can be harvested in 2-5 years. In case of fruit trees, tamarind has a productive life of over 80 years, while mango and cashew have a productive life of 40-50 years. However, fruit trees start generating income from an early age and contribute to profit every year. In case of timber species, income is generated after a long gestation and only when trees are cut. Thus, fruit and non-wood tree species deserve to be promoted on a wider scale.
Even for expansion of various fruit crops, there are limitations of labour, resources and market beyond certain scales of operation. For instance, the area under fruit crops such as ber and amla could be expanded well during the last two decades. However, with larger volume of these fruits arriving in the market, which is more than the existing demand, the prices have started falling down. Unless efforts are made to process these fruits for value addition and preservation, farmers are not likely to cultivate these species on a large scale in the future. For crops like mango, in the absence of cold storage and processing, glut during a particular period in the year may affect the price realisation. Similarly, for crops like grapes which are highly labour intensive, farmers may not expand the area due to shortage and inefficiency of labour. In such a situation, farmers are likely to select the next best crops for cultivation. Looking to the present status of tree planting on private lands, it can be concluded that private land owners opt for different types of tree species in the following order of priority:
Preference for tree species in the order of priority:
Fruits and nuts
Round wood species and plywood
Non-timber forest products and oil seeds
Paper and pulpwood
Forage and fuelwood
The above preference is based on current profitability and subject to availability of good soil, assured soil moisture and easy availability of inputs. The priority may change for different sites, based on adaptability of the species to local agro-climatic conditions, infrastructure for backward and forward integration, investment capabilities, etc. In areas prone to natural calamities, it is better to select hardier species even if the returns are low instead of growing sensitive crops capable of higher returns. There are many useful and valuable species like sandalwood, teak and red shishum, which are highly priced but the gestation period is very long. Farmers may plant these species on a small scale but not for income generation in the short run. The species covered in this paper are suitable for tropical regions and there are different species suited for sub-tropical and temperate regions.
To ensure selection of suitable species, it is better to prepare a land use plan, based on the soil productivity of the site earmarked for tree planting. Fertile soil with assured soil moisture is highly productive, where fruit trees grow well and give high returns. Hence, such lands can be reserved for establishing fruit orchards, if farmers are not intending to grow arable crops of high value. Medium quality soils with moisture stress, not suitable for fruit crops can be used for growing round wood, soft wood or ply wood. Soils of slightly inferior quality can be used for pulp and paper wood. Soils of low fertility with moisture stress, not suitable for above types of species can be used for establishing fuelwood plantation. There are shallow soils with moisture stress, where it is extremely difficult for tree species to survive. Such soils can be used for growing fodder shrubs and grasses. Thus, soil productivity and profitability of different tree species should be taken into consideration, while making final selection of tree species for growing on private lands.
Strategy for Solving Fuelwood Crisis From various studies, it is clear that establishment of tree plantations for fuelwood and fodder is neither economically viable nor attractive to farmers for cultivation, particularly when they have other options. Further, there is no scope for selling fuelwood at a higher price, firstly, because most of the poor who are dependent on fuelwood for cooking, try to fetch it from public properties, free of cost. Secondly, they do not have the purchasing power to buy at higher prices. Therefore, in the absence of easy supply of fuelwood at an affordable price, pressure on community lands and forests will further increase, resulting in further denudation of the natural resources. To reduce this problem, the following alternatives need to be considered.
Promotion of Commercial Plantation:In a forestry plantation for industrial raw materials and round timber, only about 40-50% wood is used for timber or industrial raw material and the rest is used as fuelwood. If the community forestry programme can promote commercial plantations to meet the annual demand of 65-70 m3 of wood, these plantations can also meet 25% of the demand for fuelwood. As the returns from commercial wood are very attractive, tree growers can afford to sell the leftover fuelwood as by-product at a lower price. Thus, the poor can be benefitted. Local grasses which grow in abundance in a well managed plantation, can be cut and carried to feed the stall-fed livestock.
Mixed Plantations: Introduction of fuelwood species in a mixed stand with fruit, timber and commercial tree species is feasible. Species like teak, mango, cashew, neem, etc. need wider spacing but the interspace remains idle for about 8-10 years, till trees attain normal size. It is possible to establish fuelwood species of short gestation between these trees and harvest them in 3-5 years. Selection of nitrogen-fixing tree species which are known for high calorific value, can further benefit farmers by nursing the main tree species through soil enrichment. This strategy can further boost the fuelwood production. Fodder cum fuelwood species like leucaenea, gliricidia, sesbania, acacia and albizia are ideal for establishing a mixed stand. Non-browsing tree species such as Australian acacia, kassod and casuarina are also useful as fuelwood species for planting on bunds and borders in fruit orchards.
Simultaneously, wood saving devices and alternate energy sources such as biogas plants, improved wood stoves, processing of biomass to improve the burning efficiency and solar cookers should be promoted.
Trees under Agroforestry System With depletion of agricultural lands and lack of irrigation facilities, agriculture in arid and semiarid regions is becoming uneconomical. Agroforestry provides a viable solution for such problems. Under this system, woody perennials are introduced in the agricultural field without hampering arable crop production. Trees serve as wind breaks, source of organic matter, shade and soil binder to prevent soil erosion while generating additional income. Depending on the fertility and depth of soil and moisture availability, different tree species can be introduced. In areas receiving more than 800 mm annual rainfall, it is possible to introduce various fruit crops while planting multipurpose tree species on field bunds and borders. The interspace can be used for cultivation of food crops for 8-10 years, till the trees spread widely in the field.
Establishing shelterbelts by planting tall growing trees on field bunds is very popular in India. Popular species used under shelterbelt planting are eucalyptus, poplars, casuarina, bamboo, acacia, dalbergia, leucaena, Silver oak, sesbania, gliricidia, melia, etc. To avoid adverse effects of these trees on agricultural crops, regular pruning of side branches and lateral roots will be helpful. These trees will be ready for harvest as poles, while contributing foliage and twigs for fodder, fuel and green manure. Shelterbelt plantations are profitable where farmers have fertile lands with irrigation facilities, with 200-300% cropping intensity like in Punjab, Haryana and Terai regions of Northern India.
Many farmers, particularly large land holders and absentee landlords, have been cultivating eucalyptus as a monocrop in non-irrigated areas, where very little care is needed after establishment. In a few districts of Andhra Pradesh, leucaena is cultivated as a sole crop and harvested at an interval of 3-5 years for pulp wood. This system is becoming popular as the local paper mills are offering a remunerative price, apart from arranging to harvest and transport wood from the field. Such buy back support is needed to expand tree plantations on a large scale.
The Wadi programme promoted by BAIF Development Research Foundation is another good model for promoting trees on degraded private lands particularly in hilly terrains. Under this programme, 0.4 ha land owned by each family is being developed under agri-horti-forestry system. The agricultural crops grown as intercrops between the fruit trees start generating income from the first year itself, while fruit trees start bearing fruits after 4-6 years. Large numbers of less known species of fruits, nuts and multipurpose plants are planted on the boundary and bunds to meet various household needs, while protecting the orchard. These orchards provide gainful employment all round the year, while improving the ecosystem of the location and income of the land owners.
Bio-diesel Plantation is a wave to promote non-edible oil tree plantations in the country. Major oil seed trees in the country are neem, mahua (Madhuca indica and Madhuca longifolia), pongamia (Derris indica), undi (Calophyllum inophyllum) and jatropha (Jatropha curcus). Among these, jatropha and pongamia have received wider publicity. The Government of India has launched a massive extension programme to promote jatropha cultivation, by projecting very high returns and providing partial financial support for establishing the plantation. The programme with good publicity, was launched to cover a larger area. However, the programme faded away as the farmers realised that they were not receiving the anticipated returns. This is an excellent example of how the programme can receive a severe setback if the anticipated benefits are not accrued. Pongamia cultivation is also not well accepted by farmers due to lack of precise information about the yield and incomes, although it has several other benefits such as tolerance to drought, ability to prevent soil erosion, source of woody biomass, green manure, bio-pesticides and better micro-climate. Species such as mahua, neem and pongamia are excellent for planting on community lands, village forest lands and along roads.
Trees with Religious Sentiments: Trees have religious and sentimental values. In ancient Hindu scriptures, uses of many trees for different purposes and their placement in home gardens have been very well described. Establishment of tree groves around the community temples with a wide range of tree species is also a traditional custom. These groves known as sacred groves, with a wide range of naturally grown and introduced trees and shrubs, are protected with respect by the community. Many species of ficus and acacia are also considered holy trees and people generally do not cut them. However, they do not want to plant a large number of such species unless they find some tangible benefits.
Trees for Beautification:Economics and tangible benefits are the primary considerations for selecting tree species by farmers. Trees are also planted for beautification, to improve the micro-climate, arrest soil erosion and many other functions. Trees provide an excellent ambience to the site, either residential or work areas. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, thereby reducing the harmful effects of air pollution. Thus, trees act as lungs of our cities to purify air and keep the surroundings cool, healthy and beautiful. Selection of suitable tree species will enhance the aesthetic value and beauty of the surroundings. The selection of species for various locations depends on the size, height and root system. A strong and deep root system ensures better establishment and prevents uprooting by wind.
Tall growing trees with wide branches to provide shade, such as mahogany, rain tree, ficus and rubber tree can be planted to bring the open area under tree groves. For the outer border of the campus, tall growing tree species may be planted. Along the internal roads on the campus, trees of small size, preferably with colourful and fragrant flowers may be planted. There are smaller flowering herbs which do not cause any damage to the buildings when planted close to the buildings. Plants like bamboo, bottle brush and weeping willow can be planted along lakes and canals. Apart from plants of small and large size trees, a wide range of creepers with colourful and fragrant flowers can also be introduced. Thorny hedges may be avoided, except for fencing as they require regular pruning.
Different tree species which can be selected for planting in Tropical gardens are presented in Annexure I.
Conclusion While promoting tree planting on private lands, the preference of farmers should be considered. Tree species to be selected should be based on the quality of land, availability of moisture, suitability of climate, growth rate, gestation period, profitability and for fulfilling other specific objectives. While most of the farmers consider profitability as the primary consideration, beautification, conservation and improving micro-climatic are the other considerations. For the success of any afforestation programme on private lands, income being the primary consideration, arrangements should be made for backward and forward linkages. The extension programme to promote afforestation, should be based on well tested technical and economic data to guide the farmers and general public in the right direction.
References Anonymous. 1989. Indigenous greens become active again. Hindu, Madras. September 10.
Deshpande, R.S.V. Ratna Reddy and P. Borse. 1990. Resurrection of Institutionalism: A trade off between social and farm forestry. Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune (Unpublished) 17 pp.
GOI. 1989 B. Developing India’s Wastelands. Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi: 82 pp.
Gupta, J. 1990. Some socio-economic and management aspects of farm forestry. In Studies on Social Forestry in India. Edited by P.M. Shingi. RAPA Publication 199/1. FAO, Bangkok and IIM, Ahmedabad: 97–103.
Hall, D.O. and P.J. de Groot. 1985. Biomass for fuel and food. Paper presented at the World Resources Institute Symposium on Biomass Energy System Building blocks for sustainable agriculture, Virginia, USA: 158 pp.
Hegde, N.G. 1987. Scope for increasing the profitability of social forestry programme. In Social Forestry for Rural Development. Ed. By P.K. Khosala and R.K. Kohli. Indian Society of Tree Scientists, Solan: 68-85.
Hegde, N.G. 1991. Impact of Afforestation Programme on Socio-economic transformation of the Rural Poor. Ph.D. Thesis, Pune University, Pune: 299 pp.
Muranjan, S.W. 1987. Management of Social Forestry in Maharashtra. Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune: 199 pp.
NCAER. 1988. A review of social forestry projects and programmes in selected states in India. National Council of Applied Eco. Research. New Delhi: 71 pp.
Sathe, P.G. 1990. A system research approach for social forestry in Maharashtra. Report prepared for USAID and Government of Maharashtra, Pune: 98 pp.
Saxena, N.C. 1988. Wastelands development for rural needs. Some policy issues. In Wastelands development for fuelwood and other rural needs. Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia. Field Document No. 19. FAO, Bangkok: 149 – 166.
Saxena, N.C. 1989. Development of degraded village lands in India. Experiences and Prospects. GCP/RAS/111/NET. Field Document No.15. FAO, RWEDP, Bangkok : 55 pp.
Shingi, P.M. 1988. Status and prospects for forestry extension in India: An introduction to papers. In Planning Forestry Extension Programmes – India. Edited by P.M. Shingi and C.P. Veer. IIM, Ahmedabad, RWEDP, FAO, Bangkok: 1-8.
Singh, G. 1985. Impact of social forestry project on locals – A Case study in Badaun Division U.P. Centre for Management in Agriculture, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Singh, G. 1990. Impact of social forestry project – A case study in Badaun Division. In Studies on Social Forestry in India. RAPA Publication 1990/1. Edited: P.M. Shingi. FAO, Bangkok and IIM, Ahmedabad: 195-208.