Forests are a very important segment of environment. For the conservationist it would be the entire biological spectrum of flora and fauna, their inherent variety and commonalities. For the economist with potential for exploitation and valuable source of revenue, for the poet a source of inspiration, for the tourist of a medium to relax with, for the photographer, a subject. Last but not the least for the forest fringe dwellers it is a resource, a source of medicine, livelihoods, ecological services, food security and equally important a part of their heritage.
Unfortunately, many of us do not really realize the importance of forests which has so much influence on not only our well-being but our absolute existence as well as socio economic development and food security.
In 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio-de-Janeiro, main objectives were:
– Conservation of Bio-diversity
– Sustainable use and
– Equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the uses of bio diversity.
- Nearly a sixth of the world’s population depends on protected areas for significant percent of their livelihoods
- Nearly 1.6 billion people in the world rely on timber and non-timber forest products.
- Nearly 1 billion people worldwide depend on drugs derived from forest plants for their medicinal plants.
(Source: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005)
Forests for Socio economic development:
The thought of creating forests at the rural and urban area (if permissible), or use of existing forest land with immense potentialities in term of socio-economic development. Now a day’s creating forest is very much necessary. A look into how innovative idea has put the forest into use like as follows:
Forestation in planned and scientific way by planting different species of plant which are essential for excursion purpose and make habitat of such animals which are not only increase the beauty of forest also use for excursion (students of school/ college/ universities).
Birbhum, Purulia, West Midnapore are the most poverty stricken districts of West Bengal is a land of treasures owing to the vast number of flora and fauna. Very poor tribal communities like Santhal, Birhores, Lodhas, Mundas etc. These communities still prefer to live in remote jungles, they tend to be an integral part of the ecosystem. Birhore tribal community is very expert to make grass made oval shaped hut which will be a potential power to be an ‘Eco Hotel’. These communities can play a major role in maintaining the forest as well as its treasure and can earn their means of livelihood from the forest.
Lac insects (Mulbery Silk Moth and Tasar Silk Moth) play a major role in the economy of Purulia district of West Bengal, India. Host plants must be there in the forest.
Bamboo, Lantana camera– also play an important role for making furniture, which is income generating activity.
Grasses for paper, rope and string: Apart bamboos the grasses mostly used for paper making are Saccharum spontaneum, S. bengalensis etc. to produce writing and other papers. Desmostachya bipinata, Eulaliopsia bauata etc. are in general used for rope and string making purpose.
Apiculture (for honey and wax) at forest area is profitable.
Leaf of Sal tree, Kendu leaf are also mostly used for income generation.
Different grasses like Hogla (Typha angustifolia), Sola (Aeschynomene aspera) etc. are very useful for cottage industry.
Fodder grass cultivation in forest area are also income generating.
Forests for Food Security:
Edible Macrofungi- is ready to offer an array of benefits to the human society, ranging from a good source of income generation. It have proven to be a good source of bioactive compounds having anti carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant etc. with regard to coronary heart disease and hypertension. At West Bengal mid day mil scheme is a great initiative for poor students (Primary and upper primary students) by Government of West Bengal, mushroom can be included at their mil as a good source of protein, by this initiative local SHGs (Self Help Group) can produce mushroom and get economical benefit.
Small water bodies in Forest area are a habitat of small fish (mourola, punti, nadus, Chanda, chang, koi, shol etc.), mollusks (genre gugli), crab, turtle etc. which are important source of protein to rural peoples.
Algae (Spirulina) also a potential resource in promoting local economy.
Bats- a rich source of proteins for the tribal people.
Below the shade of big trees in the forest area, turmeric, spices (like Gol morich) etc can be easily grown.
Some weed plants like Ipomoea aquatic commonly known as Kolmi is a leafy vegetable of high economic potential.
Flora-fauna as a source of medicine- At rural area of West Bengal in case of early detection of Polio affected child a medicine prepared using ‘Daddy long Leg Spider’ is a traditional use. During early stage of Filariasis, rural people traditionally use a special kind of oil prepared from black crab, during chicken pox tribal people traditionally eat the flesh of turtle.
Thysanolaena maxima, Panicum antidotale etc are being used as medicinal grass. Arjun (Termenalia arjuna), Neem (Azadiractica indica) etc. have a rich medicinal value, which is worldwide accepted.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Rahul Bhattacharjee (India) – rahul.irdm615(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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