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Abundance of the Commons: Reviving community forests in Uttarakhand

By Hasten Ventures
Satoli, Uttarakhand
Verified by Climes
13K+ kgsCO2e neutralised
1234+ Climerscontributed
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From 2000 to 2020, Uttarakhand lost nearly 50,000 hectares of forest lands from commercial activities

Around 21,000 hectares of this land was destroyed due to mining, hydropower plants, road construction, power distribution lines, water pipelines and irrigation. And the rest due to railways, defence, laying down optical fibres, building construction, rehabilitation, etc.

This is increasing at an alarming rate in a State where over 2/3 of lands are covered by forests.

This degradation weakens our first line of defence against a rapidly changing climate and increases food security risks for a burgeoning population..

How does the project tackle this?

Uttarakhand's Van Panchayats or Community Forests are an important part of its social fabric. From the days of the Chipko movement, rural communities have protected these commons as an essential part of their rural lives.

Over 70% of Community 'forests' in Uttarakhand are pine 'plantations', i.e. hectares of land that are invaded by pine trees, not allowing any native forests (like oak forests) to survive. Pine needles are highly inflammable and are the main cause of annual fires. By reforesting native trees in the midst of pine plantations, we can reduce the risk of fires.
The work undertaken by Hasten Ventures ensures:

Repopulates forests with native species suitable to local conditions
Reduce incidents of forest fires
Recruits local communities for an inclusive approach

About Hasten Ventures

Hasten Ventures started out as Alaap in 2017 with its roots in village Satoli, Uttarakhand. While degrading van panchayats offered the opportunity for reforestation, execution was not straightforward because of issues of land ownership, lower incentives for collective action, and limited wherewithal of the forest department.

Since 2019, they've planted close to 10,000 trees. By showcasing the revival of one forest, the vision is to prove the potential of these community forests in addressing climate change, and significantly improving the quality of life of local communities.

Hasten Ventures is building a viable case for large scale native reforestation in the Himalayas.