resources play significant role in both socio-economic development and
environment of any area. The Forest ecosystem is now known to serve a
multiple function in absorbing carbonload, generation of oxygen, moderating
climate, preventing soil erosion, recharging groundwater, etc. Forest,
through the process of photosynthesis, trap solar energy, which can provide
biomass for energy production. Besides producing timber and fuel, forest
offer a wide range of non-timber forest produces like leaf, fruits, flowers,
gums, resins, medicinals. Above all, forests harbour 80 percent of the
biodiversity on the planet earth.
forest in Tripura may be classified into three different types of classificatory
type of Tripura
by stand in distinct three tier evergreen forests exhibit numerous species
of trees, with high biodiversity but none of the species may be abundant
in population. Evergreen forests can be seen in Dharamnagar and Kailashahar
area, Jampui and Sakhan hill ranges, and in part of Belonia, Sabrum, Kamalpur
and Sadar sub-division. Once occupying a large area, evergreen forest
has now been reduced significantly and exist in patches along hill slopes,
sandy river banks, etc. Species of
Dipterocarpus, Artocarpus, Amoora, Elaeocarpus, Syzygium, Eugenea
dominated the top canopy.
Moist Deciduous Forest
dominant species, Sal or Shorea
robusta provides more than 60% of the top canopy in this type of forest.
Found in southern and northern low hills, extending up to the border of
Bangladesh, Sal forest has undergone significant changes in some areas
like Sonamura, due to expansion of paddy cultivation. Locally, Sal forest
can still be found in Belonia, Udaipur, Sonamura and part of Sadar sub-division.
deciduous Mixed Forest
by absence or scarce, Sal trees, mixed forest offer dense and even canopy
reaching a height of as long as 25 meters. Such forest can be seen in
Amarpur, Sonamura, Udaipur and Sadar areas and in fragmented patches in
Dharmanagar, Kailashsahar and Kamalpur areas.
Bamboo and Cane Forest
tract of land in forest area show bamboo forest, often interrupted by
evergreen or deciduous secondary stand. Abandoned Jhum land appear favourable
for natural bamboo growth besides sheltered hollows, etc.
grows extensively in the wet hollows and amidst evergreen, semi-evergreen
and moist deciduous forest. Species of Calamus
(guruba, floribundus, ertectus,
leptospadix, vimnialis) dominate the thorny thickets.
is basically a part of evergreen vegetation, and sometimes associated
with Sal trees of moist deciduous forest. Garjan or Dipterocarpus
furbinatus forms the
are formed as an edaphic climax on wet soils. Besides the natural grassland,
grassland succeeds activities of shifting cultivation, forest fire and
areas of other human activities. Aquatic grasses often occupy silted marshland
enriched by silt and organic debris.
cover a large part of the geographical area of the State. The swamp areas
harbour harbaceous species, few shrubs and trees dominated by Albizia,
Baringtonia, Lagerstroemia, Macaranga, Mullotis species; herbs and
grasses include Clinogyne, Phragmites and Saccharum
the total geographical area of the State of 10,486 sq. km, a total of
6292 sq. km is recorded as forest. The actual forest cover is however
is estimated at 5745 sq. km, constituting 54.78 percent of the total geographical
area. Of this, 2228 sq. km is considered dense forest, 3517 sq. km is
recorded as open forest and scrub forest, leaving 4741 as non forest area
(FSI Report, 1997, 1999).
An assessment of dense forest cover, between 1972-75 and 1997-99, shows a reduction of area from 0.60 million ha. to 0.22 million ha. (Table-26 & Fig.-7). The data reveals that maximum loss of dense forest cover occurred between 1972-1985 after which the situation has stabilized, increasing to 0.22 million hectare in 1999.
actual forest cover data for the period i.e. 1972 to1997-99 shows a decline
from 0.63 million ha. to 0.57 million ha. (Table-27 Fig.-8).
of dense forest
Table- 27: Actual Forest covers changes
the other hand scrub land area has increased from 0.011 million ha., in
1987-89 to 0.015 million ha., in 1993-95.
forest of Tripura can be grouped under Reserve Forest (RF), Protected
Forest (PF) and unclassified forest (Table-28 Fig.-9)
analyzed, per capita forest in the state as against total forest the figure
comes to 0.228 ha. But if the same ratio is calculated against actual
forest cover 553800 ha (1991), the figures comes to 0.201 ha. With a recorded
change to 574500 ha (or 5745 sq. km), and a net increase of 21000 ha.
(210 sq. km), the per capita forest now stands at 0.180 ha. This shows
the rate of population growth surpassed the rate of growth of forest 1999-2001.
Loss of Forest
Forest Department’s document (2000) noted an alarming rise of incidence
of unauthorised felling causing an estimated amount of loss of Rs. 18.5
crore in annual revenue. Improving ifrastructural networks and sealing
of f porous border with Bangladesh, are major suggested to stop smuggling
of forest resources.
: Annual outturn of timber and number of forest offences in Tripura
slash and burn cultivation in the hill tribal areas has direct impact
on forest especially with shortening of Jhum cycle. A 1993 report of Forest
Survey of India, shows loss due to shifting cultivation vis-ŕ-vis regeneration
of old Jhum land, as also due to other reasons. (Table-29 & Fig.-11-A
and Gain of Forest Cover in 1993 as compared to 1991 (in sq. km)
on shifting cultivation in North East India shows that out of 278,25,85
ha. Under Jhum in seven NE States. Tripura has the lowest figure of 5,04,27
ha. (40,000 ha according to Forest Department, 2000 AD), with 43,000 families
(55049 families according to Forest Department, 2000 AD) being engaged
in the practice. The ratio of families against Jhum land appears very
high when compared to Manipur where 700 Jhumia families cultivate in 57,85,29
ha. (Borah, 1998, Ind. J. Landscape
Syst. & Ecol. Stud. 21(1) :56). The major areas under shifting
cultivation are scattered and fall under Survey of India, Toposheet No.
84A, 79M and 83D. Some of the examples are South West of Kanchanpur, North
and South of Machhmara and areas near Gumti reservoir. Most of the regeneration
of 15 sq. km falls under Toposheet No. 83D.
encroachment of forest land has shown an alarming trend since 1980; while
an estimated 16,210 families have reportedly encroached upon forest land
measuring 5305.30 ha till 1980. The number of families rose by another
27,005 families by 1991 occupying 8620.40 ha of additional forest land;
the total number of families now stands at 43,215 occupying 13,925.71
ha; of these 8190.84 ha belong to Reserve forest, 2127.54 ha belong to
proposed Reserve forest and 3607.33 ha come under Protected forest. The
latest figure from the Revenue Department, Govt. of Tripura (1997) shows
that 580 sq. km out of 6292 sq. km of forest land has been occupied by
of the causes of loss of forest is forest fire. A five year data (1968-73)
(National Commission of Agriculture 1973) shows that average number of
forest fire per year is 33, with an average of 300 ha., of forest being
burnt, valued at Rs. 260000. This figure is only indicative and more recent
data may be helpful. The number of forest fire during 1968-73 however
appear very high when compared with Assam (6) Meghalaya (1) in North East
is now estimated that forest fire is common in 20 percent of the total
forest area of Tripura. The major causes may be intentional burning of
ground cover for grazing or for jhum cultivation. FSI estimate of 1993
shows more than 6 percent of forest have become moderately or heavily
degraded due to forest fire. Lack of communication for early detection
an lack of fire fighting equipment severally mitigatory measures.
the two million domestic cattle of the state at least 60 percent in the
forest area. This led to soil compaction and heavy damage to plantations
and natural regeneration process. Lack of community grazing land is considered
as one of the major causes for such serious degradation.
Rights and Concessions
Forest Department mentions at least three different notification providing
enormous concession to the tribal population. These includes collection
of house post, timber, fuel wood, thatching grass, bamboo, cane and other
non wood forest produces as also free grazing rights. The cumulative impacts
of such concessions coupled with impact of illegal felling are causing
serious concern to the management authority.
is interesting to note that forestry sector outlay under the state plan
decline from 3.1 percent (1990) to 1.03 percent (1999-2000). Such sharp
declines in investment in real terms are likely to have serious impact
on implementation of any management plan.
Forest Productivity and Resource based use
annual actual production and potentiality of production of forest area
in Tripura is estimated 0.0072 million cubic meters (1961-65) and 6.21
million cubic meters respectively. This has been calculated on the basis
of Pattersoni Productivity
index (CVP index- climate, vegetation, productivity index). In calculating
potential productivity, mean temperature of the warmest month, annual
range of temperature between the coldest and warmest month, mean annual
precipitation, rate of evaporation and the length of growing season in
months, are taken into consideration. (Dutt and Manikiam, 1987, ISRO-NNRMS,
TR-66-87). Currently the potential productivity estimated as 9-12 m3/ha/year.
use pattern of forest produces are centered around Hardwood for Timber,
bamboo and Cane. Highest acarage of Bamboo forests are recorded in Northern
region, specially, Dharamnagar, Kailashsahar, Khowai and partly in Kamalpur
: in the Southern part main bamboo forest resource could be located in
Amarpur. For hardwood forest, highest concentration is recorded in Kailashsahar,
followed by Khowai and Dharmanagar, all in the northern region and Belonia
and Amarpur area of southern region.
energy consumption data reveal that 91.52% of total household depend on
fuel wood in Tripura; in the rural sector out of 492,226 household 96.16%
depend on fuel wood while in urban sector the percentage of users of fuel
wood is recorded at 67.60%. The figure of fuel wood dependency (91.52%)
stands much higher than national average of 61.50% (Source: Housing and
amenities, Occ. Paper 5, of 1994, Demography Training and Data dissemination
division, Census of India)
summary of forest resources (Table –30), district wise forest areas (Table-31),
decadal changes of forest covers (Table-32), classical forest types (Table-33)
and demand and supply of forest produce (Table-34) are given below.
Table-30 : Forest Resource
The above tables show that the South district is richest followed by Dhalai (Table-31). The decadal changes indicate an welcome change in increase of dense forest cover between 1989-1999 and decline in open forest area during the same period, with a net gain of 393 sq. km or 39300 ha. (Table-32). The gap between demand and sustainable yield vis-ŕ-vis current rate of extraction should cause serious concern (Table-34).
6.5 Forest Management
The management strategy
at present include following programmes:
:an area of 218,503.68 ha have been afforested during 1950-2000.
Participation: under this broad heading Farm Forestry, Augan
–Ban Prakalp and Joint Forest management programme are noted.
Augan Ban Prakalp aims at productive use of fallow land in private holding. Initiated during 1996-97, it has covered 1547 ha benefiting 8357 families.
Forest Management (JFM) during 1991-2000 has formed 160 forest protection
committee with 8303 families covering project area of 23,476.79 ha and
10084.56 ha of plantation area.
While much of the targeted programme lagged behind the Forest Department has proposed (Forest Dept., 2000) an ambitions perspective plan called “Vision 2010”. It includes 14 projects to achieve five major strategic points viz.
Protection of existing resources.
Expanding forest cover
Strengthening policy & institutional framework.