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INTRODUCTION

The overarching objective of the national mission for a Green India implies the mission to increase the forest/tree cover in 5Mha of land and improve quality of forest cover in another 5Mha of lands. The mission is to help in improving the ecological service system from 10 million ha of these lands, increase forest based livelihood income of about 3million forest dependent households and enhance carbon dioxide sequestration by 50 to 60 MT in the year 2020.

FOREST IN MANIPUR

Manipur is located in the north eastern states of India occupying a geographical area of 22,327 km2 which is 0.7% of total geographical area of the country which is predominantly hilly and rich in its natural forest resources. Manipur lies between 23.80 N to 25.70 N latitude and 93.50 E to 94.80 E longitudes. Topographically the hills of the state comprised of 20,089 km2; that is about 90 percent of the total geographical area and only about 2,238 km2 or about 10 percent of the total geographical forest by the valley. The average elevation of the valley is about 790 m above the sea level and that of the hills is between 1500 m and 1800m. Out of the total geographical area, 16,994 sq kms is under forest area which is about 76.11 % as per the Forest Survey of India Report 2015. Majority of the forest cover including the dense forests occurs in the hills. The valley area which is thickly populated has very small forest area, mostly denuded to open forests.

FOREST TYPES IN MANIPUR

Forest is divided according to the different altitudes and the state has 5 types of forest groups (ISFR 2015) such as:

 

a)     Tropical Semi – evergreen Forests

b)     Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests

c)      Subtropical Broadleaved Hill Forests

d)      Subtropical Pine Forests

e)      Montane Wet Temperate Forest

TOTAL FOREST AREA IN MANIPUR

According to the 2015 report of the Forest Survey of India, the total forest cover in the country is calculated as 701,673 sq kms which is 21.34% of the geographical area of the country and Manipur state contributed to it with 16,994 sq kms. Major portion of the forest in Manipur lies at the altitude ranging from 500 m to 2000 m.  Lesser forest cover can be found above the range of 2000 m and below 500 m.

Most of the state forests are in the five hill districts namely; Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. The four valley districts such as Bishnupur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Thoubal share a small area of the state total forest cover.

 

District Wise Forest Cover

District Wise Forest Cover  (Area in sq.km.)

District

Geographical Area

2015 Assessment

Percent of GA

Change

Scrub

Very Dense Forest

Mod. Dense Forest

Open Forest

Total

Bishnupurth

496

0

1

20

21

4.23

0

1

Chandelth

3,313

0

710

2,097

2,807

84.73

18

156

Churachandpurth

4,570

36

1,633

2,626

4,295

93.98

9

70

ImphalEastth

669

0

52

190

242

36.17

22

11

ImphalWestth

559

0

17

39

56

10.02

1

1

Senapatith

3,271

229

822

1,126

2,177

66.55

4

308

Tamenglongth

4,391

281

1,707

1,766

3,754

85.49

-111

84

Thoubalth

514

0

3

97

100

19.46

45

10

Ukhrulth

4,544

181

980

2,381

3,542

77.95

16

541

Grand Total

22,327

727

5925

10,342

16,994

76.11

4

1182

Source: Forest Survey of India, 2015

 

Due to the existence of various types of forest, Manipur is a home to various species of floral and faunal diversity.  Some of the important endangered and vulnerable faunal and floral diversity are listed below;

 

Endangered Species of Flora in Manipur

Sl

Scientific name

Family

Local name

1

Amoora rohituga

Meliaceae

Heirangoi

2

Aporosa roxburghii

Euphorbiaceae

Tinsibi

3

Ardisia colorata

Myrsinaceae

Uthum achaba

4

Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Lauraceae

Usingsha

5

Celtis cinnamonea

Ulmaceae

Heigreng

6

Cordial fragrantissima

Caprifoliaceae

Lamuk laba

7

Entada scandens

Fabaceae

Kangkong

8

Emblica officinalis

Euphorbiaceae

Heikru

9

Eurya entida

Pentaphyllaceae

Uyanggan

10

Ficus hispida

Moraceae

Ashi heibong

11

Ficus religiosa

Moraceae

Sana khongnang

12

Gardenia campanulata

Rubiaceae

Lam heibi

13

Holigarna longifolia

Anacardaceae

Kherai

14

Litsea polyatha

Lauraceae

Tumitla

15

Litsea glutinosa

Lauraceae

Thanghidak

16

Oroxylum indicum

Bignoniaceae

Samba

17

Pteris ensiformis

Pteridaceae

Changkhrang

18

Rhus chinensis

Anacardaceae

Heimang

19

Schima wallichii

Theaceae

Usoi

20

Talauma hodgsonii

Magnoliaceae

Uthum laba

21

Xylosma longifolium

Flacourtiaceae

Nongleishang

Source: Plants species found in Phayeng Community forests

 

List of rare and endangered species of fauna in Manipur

A.   Animals

Sl No

Scientific name

Family

Local name

1

Rucervidae

Rucervus eldi eldi

Sangai

2

Hylobatidae

Hoolock leuconedys

Hoolock Gibbon

3

Lorisidae

Nycticebus bengalensis

Slow Loris

4

Felidae

Catopuma temmicki

Golden Cat

5

Ursidae

Selenarctos thibetanus

Himalayan Black Bear

6

Ursidae

HelarctosMalyanus

Malayan Sun Bear

7

Rucervidae

Cervus unicolor

Sambhar

8

Rucervidae

Muntiacuss muntjac

Barking Deer

9

Rucervidae

Axis porcinus

Hog Deer

10

Bovidae

Capricornis sumatraensis

Serow

11

Mustelidae

Arctonys collaris

Hog badgers

12

Mustelidae

Melogale personata

Ferret Badgers

13

Manidae

Manis pentadactyla

Pangolin

14

Viverridae

Prionodon pardicolor

Spotted Linsang

15

Mustelidae

Martes flavigula

Yellow Throated Marten

16

Viverridae

Arctictes binturong

Binturongs

17

Mustelidae

 

Smooth Indian Otter

18

Sciuridae

Ratufa bicolor

Malayan Giant Squirrel

 

B.   Birds

Some of the important bird species are: Mrs. Hume's barred back Pheasant , Blyth's Tragopan, The Khaleej Pheasant, White Wood Duck, Pink Headed Duck, Grey-Leg Goose, Mallard, Brahminy Duck, Clucking-teal, Plover, Hooded Crane, Brown Headed gull, Avocat White ibis, Glossy Ibis, Indian Shag, Open Bill stork and Black Necked Stork

 

FACTS OF THE FOREST CONDITION IN MANIPUR

The state’s forests are experiencing an extensive process of forest fragmentation, degradation, and outright deforestation and forest conversion. The management of the forest has suffered due to the expansion and intensification of shifting cultivation as Manipur’s population increased more than eight-fold over the past century. Jhum driven forest degradation has also lead to rapid erosion of unique biodiversity found in this region. Many indigenous communities recognise Jhumming, a serious environmental and economic problems, while farm productivity is declining.

 

Many villagers especially in the five hill districts still practice Jhuming cultivation where lots or trees are cut down and burn for cultivation. As the window period for cultivation is shortened due to growth of human population, there is not much time for the tree to regenerate. Below are the five hill districts with the area of Jhum cultivation.

Fig: Jhum Area in Manipur

 

Forest clearing and burning releases massive amounts of CO2, accelerates soil erosion causing a decline in soil fertility, exacerbation of downstream flooding and sedimentations. Regeneration (natural as well as artificial) is completely wiped out and wildlife including rare plants is severely damaged.

 

Besides, the ever growing of population and the need to expand their habitation coupled with various developmental works, commercial and domestic consumption etc. have contributed to lots of anthropogenic pressure on forest land and accelerated forest degradation and deforestation. The decrease in forest cover of the state is due to biotic pressure, urbanization, unscientific shifting cultivation, illicit felling of trees, encroachments, etc. in major parts of the state.

 

The fragility of the forest eco-systems of the State due to unique edaphic factors has posed problems for their management.  With changing of the climatic condition, there occur forest disturbance in the state. However, the INCC Assessment report “Climate Change and India: A 4x4 Assessment, A sectoral and Regional Analysis for 2030s” brought out for the state of Manipur, that no change in the forest types is projected for the short term period of 2030s, even though, the forests could be vulnerable to other factors such as forest fragmentation, forest degradation and forest conversion.

 

Besides, the State Government of Manipur has been making consistent endeavors to attain the national norm of protected area network (PAN) i.e. 5% of the TGA (1,116.35 sq. km.). In addition to the existing Keibul Lamjao National Park of Bishnupur (40 sq. km.) and Yaingangpokpi Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary of Chandel (184 sq. km.), the State Government of Manipur has notified another 563.3 sq. km. for 4 (four) sanctuaries and 1 (one) national park (Table 9.1) under section, 18 Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and the process for final constitution, is under progress.

 

Table 9.1: New Protected Area Network under Forest Cover of State

Sl.

Name of the new PAN

District

Area in sq. km.

1.

Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary

Tamenglong

115.80 Sq. Km.

2.

Zeliad Wildlife Sanctuary

Tamenglong

21.00 Sq. Km.

3.

Jiri-Makru Wildlife Sanctuary

Tamenglong

198.00 Sq. Km.

4.

Kailam Wildlife Sanctuary

Churachandpur

187.50 Sq. Km.

5.

Shiroi Hill National Park

Ukhrul

41.00 Sq. Km.

 

IMPORTANCE OF FOREST TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Forest is another important natural phenomenon which stabilize the climate on earth. They form the source of livelihood to all living beings by providing watershed, habitat and ecosystems, economic benefits, and control of climate change along with carbon sequestration as co-benefit. Forests are important in determining the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; absorb 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, about one-third of the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels. However, this great storage system also means that when forests are cut down, the impact is quite large. Deforestation accounts for nearly 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions — more than the world’s entire transport sector. At the same time, the removal capacity of forests is decreased as forests cover is decreasing.

 

There is a vicious circle in forest and climate change. As a result, climate change is emerging as perhaps the greatest environmental challenge of the twenty-first century. It gives rise to lots of threats such as hunger, poverty, population growth, armed conflict, displacement, air pollution, soil degradation, desertification and deforestation which are intricately intertwined with and all contribute to climate change, necessitating a comprehensive approach to a solution. Therefore, realizing the importance of preserving and conserving the forest, the United Nations declared March 21 as the International Day of Forests, a part of the global effort to publicize both the value and plight of woodlands around the world. It was first celebrated March 21, 2013, nestling in between the U.N.'s International Day of Happiness on March 20 and World Water Day on March 22.

 

CONSEQUENCES OF FOREST DEGRADATION AND DEFORESTATION

Growth and productivity of forests directly or indirectly affect climate change: Directly due to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate and indirectly through complex interactions in forest ecosystems. Climate change in turn affects the frequency and severity of many forest disturbances.

 

Many aspects of projected climate change will likely affect forest growth and productivity- increases in carbon dioxide (CO2), increases in temperature, and changes in precipitation.

 

·         Carbon dioxide is required for photosynthesis, the process by which green plants use sunlight to grow. Given sufficient water and nutrients, increases in atmospheric CO2 may enable trees to be more productive.  Higher future CO2 levels could benefit forests with fertile soils. However, increased CO2 may not be as effective in promoting growth in places where water is limited.

 

·         Warming temperatures could increase the length of the growing season. However, warming could also shift the geographic ranges of some tree species. Other species may be at risk locally or regionally if conditions in their current geographic range are no longer suitable.

 

·         Climate change will likely increase the risk of drought in some areas and the risk of extreme precipitation and flooding in others. Increased temperatures would alter the timing of snowmelt, affecting the seasonal availability of water.

 

Climate change could alter the frequency and intensity of forest disturbances such as insect outbreaks, invasive species, wildfires, and storms. These disturbances can reduce forest productivity and change the distribution of tree species. In some cases, forests can recover from a disturbance. In other cases, existing species may shift their range or die out. In these cases, the new species of vegetation that colonize the area create a new type of forest.

 

·         Insect outbreaks often defoliate, weaken, and kill trees. A lack of natural controls, such as predators, or pathogens, or inadequate defenses in trees, can allow insects to spread. However climate change could benefit invasive plants, since they are generally more tolerant to a wider range of environmental conditions than are native plants.

 

·         In Manipur, wildfires consumed about 2000 sq. km annually. Warm temperatures and drought conditions during the early summer contributed to this event.  Climate change is projected to increase the extent, intensity, and frequency of wildfires in certain areas of the State. Warmer spring and summer temperatures coupled with decreases in water availability, dry out woody materials in forests and increase the risk of wildfire. Fires can also contribute to climate change, since they can cause rapid, large releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

 

·         Storms, and wind storms can cause damage to forests and the amount of carbon released by these trees as they decay is huge.

 

·       Disturbances can interact with one another, or with changes in temperature and precipitation, to increase risks to forests. For example, drought can weaken trees and make a forest more susceptible to wildfire or insect outbreaks.

 

SOME POSSIBLE BENEFITS OF FOREST CONSERVATION

 

Biodiversity Benefits

Oaks, Alders, Chestnut, and Cinnamon are few of the tree species that comprise the forests scattered across the State. Many endangered animals listed in India’s Wildlife Protection Act are still found in the area, especially in the old growth, dense forest which are now protected from hunting and monitored by villagers. These include the Hoolock Gibbon, Pangolin, and Hornbills. By increasing the forest cover area and preservation of the existing forest, all these species can be preserved.

 

Hydrological Benefits

Declining and uneven spring and stream flow are directly related to the decrease of forest cover area. Through regeneration of degraded forests and spreading the message on the benefit of the forest protection, especially along stream banks and above springs, it will improve water flow in the area.

 

Carbon Benefits

When we plant trees, the estimates annual carbon additional will be improved drastically. When that is done, the plant will not only feed on carbon, but also feed the whole chain of animal life. In other words, the plant will produce oxygen as a by product of photosynthesis, which is an essential element for animal life. Too much CO2 in the atmosphere can intensify the greenhouse effect by trapping too much heat at the Earth's surface. Plants help in keeping CO2 levels from rising excessively because they keep using it to feed themselves. By the time land plants achieved tree size, they will change the atmosphere, ultimately making it habitable for land animals. Ultimately the CO2 levels drop and oxygen levels rise dramatically. The climatic condition will be stabilized in this manner.