Eastern Himalaya

Restoring tropical rainforests

Image by Noopur Borawake

Reviving the rainforests in and around Pakke Tiger Reserve

Habitat destruction is a huge threat for wildlife. Pakke Tiger Reserve has experienced significant logging pressures which has resulted in significant forest loss in the landscape. Inside Pakke, logging was discontinued ~ 40 years ago but there continue to be patches of forest which are still degraded and under arrested succession due to heavy weed infestation. In the Reserved Forests, adjoining Pakke, illegal logging has continued and has resulted in significant loss of tree cover. With our Restoration Project, we hope to bring back some of these degraded habitats and secure the future of birds and other wildlife around Pakke Tiger Reserve.

The rainforest nursery was set up in 2014 in Seijosa village, near Pakke with the aim of raising native rainforest tree species and using them to revive the degraded forest patches in and around the area. The tree species selected are important for birds and mammals; including economically important species for planting in home-gardens/farmlands.

Seven years of planting experience

From 2014 to 2021, we have raised around 37,000 seedlings and saplings of 75 native tree species. Since May 2016, we have planted around 15,000 saplings to cover an area of 13.32 ha. The sites where planting activities have been carried out include:

  • Hornbill nest sites in the Reserved Forest adjoining Pakke TR

  • Open degraded patches inside Pakke TR

  • Elephant corridor in the Reserved Forest adjoining Pakke TR

  • Fallow lands at the tea estates in Assam

The sites are regularly maintained and monitored for survival and growth after planting. The early monitoring shows variable survival ranging from 31-69 % across different sites. The lower survival at some sites is due to higher wildlife activity which leads to the trampling of saplings or damage due to herbivory.

Community participation

We have distributed saplings to tea estates in Assam. The goal was to convert fallow/open patches within the estate into an eco-friendly habitat. The survival of saplings is the highest at these sites among all other restoration sites. The higher survival can be attributed to the special measures taken for ensuring better survival and growth, which are applicable to sites that are fenced or closed, and where there is not much wildlife activity observed.

Planting activities in degraded patches around villages near Pakke have been carried out with community involvement. Many residents have shown an active interest in planting economically important native tree species, like Livistona jenkinsiana (Tokko), Phoebe cooperiana (Mekahi) and Chukrasia tabularis (Bogipoma), for their future timber needs with some also interested in restoring forest patches around their homes and farms, including areas near the riverbed in an attempt to prevent soil erosion. Some small-scale planting has also been done around anti-poaching camps of Pakke. Saplings have also been planted at various places like schools, offices, and along the roadsides by the District Administration, Army and local community youth. Until 2021, around 7,000 saplings have been distributed for these purposes.