Conduct site suitability analysis before plantation: Forest Research Institute to Delhi government

Such degraded land can be reclaimed and rehabilitated through appropriate plantation activities, it has said in a report submitted to the government.

Published: 02nd April 2022 01:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2022 01:15 PM   |  A+A-

Forest Research Institute

Forest Research Institute in Dehradun (Photo| Edex Live)


NEW DELHI: The Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI) has told the Delhi government to conduct site suitability analysis before taking up plantation exercises to improve survival rate of saplings, officials have said.

The FRI has also asked the Delhi forest department to map the degraded land affected by various degradation drivers such as salinity, erosion, alkalinity, and water logging in the national capital using geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing techniques.

Such degraded land can be reclaimed and rehabilitated through appropriate plantation activities, it has said in a report submitted to the government.

"Although the findings of the plantation monitoring presented an encouraging picture, there are several steps which are suggested be taken up to enhance the outcomes and outputs of the plantation activity in the future," said the premier institute which had conducted an audit of plantation exercises conducted in Delhi between 2016 and 2019.

"It is imperative to conduct site suitability analysis well in advance before taking up plantation activities. The parameters such as soil characteristics, species suitability, topographic and locality factors should be considered under such assessments prior to plantation," it added.

It observed that some sites are not suitable for plantations as people throw garbage there and stray cattle menace affected saplings. Officials said that the department is conducting soil testing at several locations and an internal audit in a bid to make the plantation exercise this year "more scientific".

"Tests are being conducted to ascertain the characteristics of the soil in a particular area. It will give us an idea whether the soil is alkaline or acidic, has enough nutrients and moisture and organic content to support the growth of saplings," an official said, adding, "For example, if the soil is alkaline, it will have to be treated to support sapling growth."

The FRI report said the evidence from field surveys and data analysis suggests that the plantation forestry in Delhi is likely to be sustainable in terms of wood yield at most of the sites provided good practices are maintained.

"Adoption of improvised silviculture techniques and plantation of native species may further enhance productivity," it said. The FRI also said "rapid assessment of biological richness" at plantation sites is needed to understand the impact of plantation on biodiversity.

The climate change mitigation aspect of the plantation should also be assessed according to the area of plantation.

It said it is imperative to cultivate medicinal and aromatic plants considering their conservation importance and economic benefits for local communities, and suggested the forest department to avoid plantation of exotic species like, Acacia auriculiformis, commonly known as Auri; Acacia leucophloea or white-barked acacia etc., as "they are not fit for enhancement of biodiversity".

The FRI also felt the need to train field staff with regard to the latest plantation techniques and forest fire control. "Their capacity is needed to be enhanced on latest advancement in the field of plantation forestry. Training can be provided at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, in afforestation techniques and forest fire management to front line staff to increase their capacity for conducting field works in more efficient way," it recommended.

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