With the onset of monsoon season, reports of tree planting activities are pouring in from different districts across the State. The initiative taken—by a few NGOs, village councils and public organization with support from the State Forest Department—to go in for mass tree plantation should be welcomed as it will have a positive and desirable impact on the environment. More however still needs to be done as far as creating public awareness is concerned. It also goes without saying that the afforestation drive has to be on a much larger scale than is being done. The Forest Department likewise should be doing more to enhance this drive. For a State like Nagaland, community based approach will be a much more fruitful exercise. Programs such as those related to social and agro forestry has to be designed in such a manner as to motivate larger number of people to plant trees and promote the kind of tree growing that caters to the local economy.
A program such as the one involving social forestry will be extremely beneficial for a state like Nagaland as it will provide opportunity for both forest protections as also the maintenance of services of forests. With its basis in community involvement and self-reliance mode such a program will no doubt open the door for a Greener Nagaland. It can also enhance to a great extent the possibility for tourism and eco-tourism. In the specific context of a State policy, social forestry by its very concept is an acknowledgement of the rights of local populations. More importantly, since it is aimed at involving farmers, in the context of the land ownership system of the Naga community, social forestry will be able to incorporate a wide variety of activities such as farmers growing wood to sell or use for firewood or individuals earning income from the gathering, processing and sale of minor forest products such as fruits, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, dry flowers etc. All in all, if properly designed, there will be both direct and indirect benefits for the local community.
Social forestry is also important for the reasons that in the long run it helps in protecting the environment. The importance of trees in purifying the air, as natural resources, maintaining the ecological balance, preventing soil erosion, as medicines, habitats for faunal species, providing nutrients to the soil etc. is well known. With the present forest and tree cover in the State under threat, the involvement of people - particularly at the grassroots level - and agencies outside the Government is crucial for achieving greener forest cover. Besides the stakeholders from the rural community it is suggested that schools and colleges should show greater enthusiasm in this green campaign. Schools and colleges can adopt “one child one plant” scheme, where the responsibility of growing the plant lies with the student. Mere planting of trees will not help. Proper care has to be taken of the saplings planted. A fast paced growth centre like Dimapur can definitely do with a plantation drive. For this, grass-root level NGOs, school students and the various government departments can work in tandem towards a cleaner, greener city.