With its lush green forests, and rich flora and fauna, Sikkim is truly one of the most beautiful states in India. Much of this is credited to the policies of the Forests, Environment, and Wildlife Management Department.
According to The Hindu, a more recent addition to Sikkim’s nature conservation policies makes an effort to encourage citizens to preserve nature by forming lasting bonds with trees.
If you were to open the Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity and Reverence) Rules for 2017, you would come across a section which states the following:
“The State Government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land:
(i) by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship with a tree in which case the tree shall be called a Mith/Mit tree;
(ii) by adopting a tree as if it was his or her own child in which case the tree shall be called an adopted tree;
(iii) by preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a Smriti tree”
So, what is “Mith”?
Also called Mitini, this refers to the practice of forging a relationship with the tree in which the man or woman regards the tree as his or her brother.
This follows the age-old tradition of the relationship between man and nature, and any tree protected by this relationship cannot be felled or damaged, as per government rules.
The process is simple.
1. Pick a tree
This tree can be both on your personal property, or in a public area. If you would like to adopt a tree on someone else’s property, Sikkim’s rules require that the owner be compensated the full amount of the market value of the timber to be obtained from the tree, and both parties must enter into the agreement.
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2. Fill out the required forms
Depending on the type of relationship you would like to forge, the government has a special form. This is available on the government website and requires you to detail the reasons why you wish to adopt a tree.
3. Assessment by the Assistant Conservator of Forests
The Assistant Conservator of Forests will investigate whether or not the tree is available for adoption, to form a Mit/Mith or Mitini relationship. Once the tree is approved, the Assistant Conservator will provide you with a date, in which you can perform any ritual you see fit and make an entry in the official register.
After this process is completed, the department issues a certificate with the coordinates of the tree and just like that; you can now be family to a tree!
Speaking to The Hindu, Thomas Chandy, Principal Secretary and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said, “We will take up the issue in a major way at the upcoming Paryavaran Mahotsav being organised by the Sikkim government.”