Eastern Himalaya

Restoration of hornbill habitats

Habitat destruction is a huge threat for hornbills. Much of the foothill forests outside the Pakke Tiger Reserve, have been destroyed by logging. With the Restoration programme, we hope to bring back some of these lost hornbill habitats and secure the future of these birds and other wildlife in Pakke. 

The restoration project

Habitat destruction is a huge threat for wildlife. Much of the foothill forests outside the Pakke Tiger Reserve, have been affected by various human activities including logging. For example, adult tree densities (around 33 trees per ha) in the Papum RF is about half that inside the Pakke TR (> 80 trees per ha). With our Restoration program, 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 2013 in Darlong village, near the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) 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 hornbills, other birds and mammals; including economically important species for planting in home-gardens/farmlands.

Four years of planting experience

In the past four years, we have raised around 17,000 saplings of 60 native tree species. Since May 2016, we have planted around 8050 saplings in an area of 11 ha. The sites where planting activities have been carried out include:

  • Hornbill nest sites in the RF
  • Open degraded patches inside PTR
  • A relocated village site in PTR
  • An open forest patch near Tippi in Doimara RF

Monitoring sapling survival

The early monitoring show variable survival ranging from 45-85% across the sites in a year’s time. With such successful establishment of saplings, there is a hope for recovery of these degraded patches.

Community participation

We distributed 1500 saplings to a tea estate at Dhekiajuli in Assam in 2017. The goal was to convert fallow/open patches within the estate into an eco-friendly habitat. The survival of saplings after a year was found to be highest (84%) amongst 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. Around 1844 saplings have been distributed so far. Many residents have shown an active interest in planting economically important native tree species, like Tokko (Livistona jenkinsiana), Mekahi (Phoebe cooperiana) and Bogipoma (Chukrasia tabularis), 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 stop soil erosion. Some small-scale planting has also been done around anti-poaching camps of Pakke TR, in the compounds of 3 local schools. Saplings have also been requested and planted by the District Administration, Army and local community youths. Planting has been done in some areas like the campus of the ‘Pakke Jungle Camp’, an eco-tourism venture started by the local community.