In order to make fuel wood and fodder easily available to villagers, Himalayan Forest Research Institute (HFRI), Shimla is to start village fuel wood and pasture development projects in Himahcal.
HFRI is also contemplating to write to different departments for selection of fuel wood species and promote its plantation near habitations so that people could get fuel wood without any hassles.
HFRI is also working on a project to develop grazing land in the state, as there are some places where livestock population is more than the human population, but lack in grazing land. HFRI is to classify areas as per agri-zone for pasture development.
In a meeting held in Shimla recently, several stakeholders had raised the issues of unavailability of fuel wood and fodder in rural areas of the state. Representatives of Mahila Mandals, Dr Lal Singh and Dr Manjeet of Himalayan Research Group stated that the unavailability of fodder and fuel wood has been adversely affecting the life of rural women.
HFRI director Dr VP Tiwari said this feedback would be conveyed to the authorities concerned and main focus would be laid on pasture and fuel wood development in the state. “Pasture development project would be mainly focused in tribal Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur and some of areas of Chamba district where livestock population is more than the human population,” he said.
“Fodder and fuel wood are big issues and HFRI will start a project to improve the situation,” said Tiwari. He said he would write to all the departments engaged in tree plantation to promote fodder and fuel wood trees while planting near to any habitation.
Tiwari said practice of “agro forestry” in the hills has been considered ecologically and socio-economically viable and has held the farmers in good stead over the years because a major part of their fuel wood and leaf fodder requirements were being met from this resource.
This system has a great impact on the socio-economic status of the people of this region. “Lower hills of Western Himalayas are characterised by high human, cattle population and highly disturbed forests. Therefore, the practice of agro forestry in this zone has great significance,” he added.
HFRI has a separate division called agro forestry and extension.
Paulownia: Chinese wonder plant
Earlier from 2003 to 2008, HFRI had started a project named “Introduction and performance trials of Paulownia species for agro forestry in different agro climatic zones” for the state. Paulownia –a plant from Chinese agro -forestry -- grows fast and its wood is light but strong. Its flowers are rich in nectar, its leaves make good fodder for farm animals, it is deep-rooted and it gets leaf late. Its canopy is quite sparse so that crops below it gets enough light to grow and shelter.
Baldev Sharma, panchayat pradhan, Nauni, Solan district said while participating in a stakeholder’s meeting at HFRI, Paulownia plants were given to some of people on trial basis. “It is proven to be one of the best fodders and fuel wood plants.”