Appreciating the value of trees and the environment, villagers around the Sukna hill, near Galudih in East Singhbhum’s Ghatsila block, in 2001 formed a forest protection committee and started protecting the area. Today, the economy of around a dozen villages, home to an estimated 1,115 families, revolves around the hill.
Sukna Hill, which was once almost barren, is now home to a number of elephants, wild boar and bears.
“The forest area is intensely guarded by villagers. Stringent rules are followed, like a total ban on felling green trees. If anyone is caught cutting a tree here, they have to pay a heavy penalty,” Kalajhor forest protection committee president Dulal Chandra Hansdas said
The villagers collect minor forest products, like Sal leaves, kendu leaves (to roll bidis), Mohua flowers, neem seeds, medicinal plants and dry firewood, which they then sell in the local market.
“We are proud to have succeeded in saving the greenery, thus helping retain the ecological balance in the area. We strongly believe that nature will bless us for our prosperity,” Bhutiacocha village head Ram Chandra Soren said.
Forester (Galudih range) Pawan Kumar said the forest contains over five lakh Sal trees and other valuable timber trees.