Afforestation in Kodagu gets boost with Forestry College's initiative 

While 70% of saplings are that of native trees, 30% are crops that have some economic value
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

The College of Forestry at Ponnampet, in collaboration with Sucden India, is involved in an afforestation drive across Kodagu. The initiative called the Sustain Landscape Project involves the distribution of native varieties of tree saplings among farmers.

Plans are afoot to plant them across sacred groves in the district.

Kari Mara (Diospyros ebenum), 'Karadimara (Chukrasia tabularis), Dhoopa mara (Vateria indica), Kari Dhoopa (Canarium strictum) to name a few, are native trees that once dotted the Kodagu landscape.

Older generations are familiar with the tree species but these are alien to the present generation. The increased demand for wood and medicines along with galloping urbanisation has led to plummeting of the native trees. To revive the trees, Ponnampet Forestry with support from Sucden India this sustainable plan was devised.

"Community forestry is being promoted through the project with seedlings of the native trees being distributed to the farmers of the district. We have been conducting this initiative for the last three years. Final-year students of the college look after the seedlings of the native trees and a few economic crops, under the experiential learning model. The students receive stipends from Sucden and the seedlings raised in the college nursery are then distributed to farmers," said K Nanaiah, assistant professor of the college.

Look at the numbers
The seedlings are distributed for free to the farmers. While 70% of saplings are that of native trees, 30% are crops that have some economic value, he said. Since 2020, a total of 250 farmers (the majority in South Kodagu) have received the saplings and raised them. The college students have also planted saplings across river banks and other protected areas across South Kodagu.

This year, they plan to expand the initiative across Kodagu, he said. The college has invited the participation of various Sacred Grove Temple committees. "Communities must be involved for this sustainable initiative. If this does not happen, we will devise other plans to plant these saplings," he said.

The project initiative has achieved a success rate of over 50% with 25,000 to 30,000 saplings have been planted so far. They are now targeting 60,000 plantations by this year.

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