June 11, 2022

Ecosystem regeneration initiative – A success story

The Tokpa Kabui upland landscape was degraded in the 1990s. Under an ecosystem regeneration initiative undertaken as part of LDA’s catchment area treatment programme, supervised in the field by a team of the LDA since 1999. Beginning with an initial target area of 500 hectares and gradually expanding to nearly 1000 hectares, the entire landscape had undergone a sea-change being converted to a prime forest area today.

The exemplary regeneration of vast tracts of forest lands and the development of near-natural water bodies in the Loktak western catchment undertaken by the Rongmei villagers of Tokpa Kabui village under the Henglep subdivision is truly unique by all standards, according to Loktak Development Authority’s newly appointed chairman, Moirangthem Asnikumar.

Taking stock of the field activity of LDA staff under its catchment area treatment programme, Asnikumar personally toured the forest lands under the jurisdiction of Tokpa Kabui village on Friday and interacted with field staff and village representatives on the nearly twenty years of intervention to re-green the landscape.

Expressing satisfaction at the result-oriented work being taken up by the villagers under the guidance of LDA staff, namely, retired ACF Th. Hemchandra Singh, scientist Asem Bidyabhusan, and field assistants Basanta and Athui, the LDA chairman observed that “This forest area has survived the test of time owing to natural regeneration and plantation by the villagers. It is an exemplary achievement which is possible due to the hard work and active participation of the villagers and the dedicated officers of LDA”.

The Tokpa Kabui upland landscape was degraded in the 1990s. Under an ecosystem regeneration initiative undertaken as part of LDA’s catchment area treatment program, supervised in the field by a team of the LDA led by scientist Bidyabhusan since 1999, beginning with an initial target area of 500 hectares and gradually expanding to near 1000 hectares, the entire landscape had undergone a sea-change being converted to a prime forest area today.

Appreciating the dedicated effort of Topka villagers in restoring the degraded landscape, which is now the picture of a near-natural sub-tropical rainforest, the LDA chairman confided that the catchment area treatment program of the LDA will be considered a priority activity and the Authority will strive to enlarge the area coverage from this current fiscal year.

The regenerated forest area in the Tokpa Kabui landscape covers an important part of the Ngariyan-Laimaton mountain range and is significant for the conservation of the watersheds that provide the source of feeder streams that flow directly into the freshwater Loktak Lake. The regenerated forests not only help in halting silt load outflow downhill, but it has also restored the biodiversity in the area.

The locals informed that several species of wildlife including Himalayan Black Bear, barking deer, leopard cat, common otter, hog badger, pangolin, slow loris, wild boar and fox, and several avian faunas have returned to the forests with the increased tree cover and availability of water sources.

As part of the conservation initiative, the Tokpa villagers had created several water bodies by constructing earth-filled vegetative check dams along the course of the mountain streams. The water bodies retain water throughout the year which in its turn has aided to natural regeneration of the forests. The water bodies are utilized by the villagers for pisciculture to enhance their earnings.

The appreciative hard work of the Tokpa villagers in re-creating lush green forests will facilitate the overall conservation effort of Loktak Lake while creating space for developing Tokpa Kabui village as a role model eco-friendly village which can be replicated in other areas, Asnikumar said.

Interacting with the villagers, the LDA chairman appealed for their concerted effort in continuing with the good work to help restore the forest ecosystem under the broad objective of conserving Loktak Lake, a Ramsar site of international importance.

First published in ‘The Frontier Manipur’ on 11th June 2022

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