Gondia district in Nagpur is starting a tree saving revolution by paying farmers an annual sum for not cutting them down.
Gondia district collector Abhimanyu Kale has come up with a plan, which he hopes will help save trees in the district from being felled, which involves paying farmers a sum of 1 lakh rupees for every tree that remains standing and has a girth of 300 cm. Under the plan, which was announced on World Environment Day, Kale also plans to plant 4 crore saplings during this year’s monsoon.
Speaking to the Times of India, Kale said, “A joint survey with the forest department revealed that there are over 1,500 such trees in the district. These include mango, banyan, pipal, tamarind and jamun. If we are able to save at least two such age-old trees in each village, I think this will go a long way in protecting the environment.”
Gondia district has an estimated 50% forest cover comprising of reserved forests, protected forests, unclassified forests and Zudpi jungle, and has been experiencing large-scale tree felling. Farmers often cut down trees in order to earn extra income but even this payment is minimal. It has been claimed by TOI that trees which have taken 50-100 years to grow are being cut down and sold for under ₹5,000, sometimes as little as ₹500.The incentive-based plan hopes to save many of the age-old trees in the district from being needlessly cut down.
And the scheme seems to be bearing fruit already as one farmer was quoted by TOI as saying, “I sold 10 huge mango trees for Rs30,000. I was not aware about the scheme then. But now I will not cut the remaining trees which were planted by my great grandfather.”
As part of the efforts to protect the area’s natural spaces, authorities have also suggested eco-tourism to the establishment in the forest areas in order to educate and create awareness among residents and those visiting the area about the conservation, preservation and protection of natural resources, including wildlife.