Introduction

Vision:

Conserve the natural resources including forest cover of Manipur and develop it into the mainstay of the economy.

Mission:

  • Conserve dense forest cover and increase the density of open forests.
  • Increase Protected Area Network (PAN) and improve protection network for wildlife conservation.
  • Encourage sustainable utilization of forest resources, NTFPs and medicinal plants.
  • Strengthen network for the protection of forests and prevention of forest fires.
  • Prevent environmental loss and climate change by maintaining the carbon sink.
  • Develop a forest resource base to create more opportunities for employment, economic activities and livelihood.
  • Beautification of cities/township and river banks.
  • Bring Manipur on the Tourism map of India by promoting Ecotourism and develop local markets.
  • Developing a sense of ownership among communities towards natural resources and forests by involving them in forest management and planning.
  • Encourage Research and development of natural resource management.
  • Generate mass awareness towards the protection and conservation of forests and wildlife.

The Forests of Manipur

Resource Richness.....

Manipur is known for its richness in biodiversity including endemic flora and fauna, varied topographic and climatic features, cultural heritage, etc. The abundance in the diversity of the forests and its resources are attributed to the ideal location of the state in the junction of two world’s hot spots of biodiversity, the India-Myanmar hot spot and the Himalayan hot spot of biological diversity. Out of 34 hot spots across the globe, India has four and out of the four, Manipur has two – Himalayan and the India-Burma hot spot. Its biodiversity includes about 4,000 angiosperms, 1200 medicinal plants, 34 species of edible fungi, about 500 orchids, 55 species of bamboo, 695 birds, 160 fish species, 21 migratory aquatic birds and multitude of butterflies, insects, etc.

The forests of the State have 6 major Forest Types and 10 Subtypes. The major forest types include Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest, Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, Sub-Tropical Pine Forest, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest, Montane Wet Temperate Forest and Sub-alpine Forest.

Legal Status of Forests

The forest and tree cover of Manipur is 77.20 % of the State’s total geographical area. Around 8.42 % of the total forest area is under Reserved Forests including Wildlife Protected Area Network, 23.95 % is Protected Forests and the rest belong to the category of Un-classed Forests.

The Wildlife in Manipur

Manipur is blessed with rich endemic wildlife. Some of them fall under the endangered category. It has rich wildlife from big carnivores to micro-fauna. Among big carnivores, it has Tigers, Leopards, Clouded leopards, Black Panther, Malayan Sun Bear and Himalayan Black Bear. Migratory elephants have also been reported in some parts of the State. It is an important home of endangered and endemic primates i.e. Hoolock gibbon, Stump-tailed macaque, Assamese macaque, Pigtailed macaque, etc. Manipur is also the home of 6 species of Hornbills and 4 species of Pheasants. The State falls in the East-Asian migratory flyway of Amur Falcon and many other migratory birds. The other important wild animals which are endangered or rare and found in Manipur forests, include Slow Loris, Pangolin, Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten, Monitor Lizards, Hog Deer, Hog Badger, Binturong, etc.

Manipur is the home of brow-antlered deer called as Sangai (Rucervus eldii eldii), one of the endangered deer species in the world, now available only in Keibul Lamjao National Park of the State. It is also called as Manipur Dancing Deer. The National Park is located in the South-Eastern part of the Loktak Lake, which is the largest natural freshwater lake in North-East India. The unique floating biomass of vegetations, which forms meadows, locally called ‘Phumdi’ plays a crucial role as the habitat of Sangai. It has a combination of aquatic wetland and terrestrial eco-system. This National Park has also been declared as the Ramsar site. The Sangai was declared extinct in 1951 and then re-discovered at Keibul Lamjao in 1953. The first census of Sangai conducted in 1975, counted 14 heads only. Therefore, the Forest Department took initiative in 1975 and notified Keibul Lamjao National Park in 1977. With intensive in-situ conservation efforts by the Forest Department, the population has grown and as per the 2016 ground census, the population of Sangai has reached 260. 

Management of Forests

The Manipur forests are being managed through well-defined and consolidated Forest Divisions as per prescriptions under Working Plans through a well-established administrative setup. There are 14 Territorial Forest Divisions, 3 Wildlife Divisions and 6 Functional Divisions. These Divisions are managed by Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCFs)/Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) with support of Range Officers, Deputy Rangers/Foresters and Forest Guards. Above DCFs/DFOs, the hierarchy in ascending order is Conservator of Forests (CFs), Chief Conservator of Forests (CCFs) and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF). The Forest Department in the State is headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Head of Forest Force (PCCF & HoFF).

Ecosystem Services of Manipur Forests

Having a forest cover of more than 77% of its geographical area, Manipur Forests are providing invaluable ecosystem services to the people of Manipur. Important ecosystem services rendered by the forests are as follows: 

  1. Fresh Air: The Forests acts as the green lungs of the State and gives us fresh air in the form of Oxygen. Moreover, they act as a carbon sink i.e. the trees absorb polluting carbon-di-oxide from the atmosphere and make it clean. 
  1. Increased Agricultural Production: The forests provide shelter to numerous wild species, birds and insects, which play an important role in the dispersal of seeds and pollination of crops by birds, insects and animals, and thus improve agriculture production. 
  1. Climatic amelioration: The Forests regulate the temperature of the atmosphere by reducing the peak temperature while increasing the lowest temperature. The weather of Manipur remains very pleasant throughout the year because of its forest and tree cover.                                                                                    
  2. Controlling Water Regime of Manipur: Manipur has a unique topography having a valley located at the center surrounded by hills from all sides. Due to dense forest cover in the hills, many of the rivers and streams originate in the hills and flow into the Manipur valley. Forests of Manipur play a crucial role in maintaining the water/moisture regime of Manipur soil. The dense tree cover maintains the water quality and its availability for various purposes like drinking water, irrigation, etc., in the rivers, streams/fountains of Manipur throughout the year. 
  1. Flood Control: Forests play an important role in flood control by reducing the flow of surface runoff, increasing the moisture absorption by soil, recharging the aquifers. Forests are very beneficial for the entire population of Manipur where the flash floods are very frequent because of topography. 
  1. Checking Land Slides/Soil Erosion and maintaining Soil Fertility: Manipur lies in the Eastern Himalayan range which is not mature. The soil is loose and very prone to landslides and erosion. Further, the State also falls in Seismic Zone V, and hence prone to earthquakes. The forest cover helps in the retention of soil and checks landslides and soil erosion. Moreover, by retaining the topsoil, it maintains soil fertility. 
  1. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Climate Change mitigation and adaptation is possible only by maintaining the forest cover and improving the quality of forests. It will be beneficial for agriculture, health (Sanitation, drinking water and pollution control) and the energy (Hydro-power) sectors. Forests of Manipur are the major support for rural livelihood and its importance will increase day by day in the present scenario of climate change.                                                                                                     
  2. Gene Pool: The wild species are very important to maintain the original gene pool for research and development and improvement in plant species/crops. The forests help in maintaining the original gene pool.

Forests of Manipur: A Mainstay of the Economy 

Manipur has more than 77% geographical area under forest cover. Further, about 82% of the State’s forest cover is in Manipur hills. This implies that the majority of the population of the State, particularly in hills, is either living in forests or forest fringe. Thus, the socio-economic life of most of the people would invariably revolve around the forests or forest produce. 

State Forests are the source of: 

  • Good quality Timber
  • Fuelwood
  • Fodder
  • Bamboo
  • The non-timber forest produces (NTFPs) like Agar, spices, etc.
  • Medicinal plants
  • Building stones, Earth, Sand, etc. 

The majority of the population is directly or indirectly dependent upon the forests for their livelihood and subsistence. Most of the small and medium enterprises in the State are based on forest produce. 

Interventions by the Forest Department 

To realize the vision and achieve the missions, the Forest Department of Manipur makes various interventions for: 

  1. Conservation of Forest-Water regime and ecological services rendered by forests.
  2. Improve the green cover of the State with better density.
  3. Establishing Protected Area Network through notifications of National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves for protection and conservation of wildlife.
  4. Conservation of soil and its fertility.
  5. Social forestry plantations to meet the requirement for fuelwood and fodder.
  6. Promotion and development of bamboo plantation on farmlands.
  7. Development of Non-timber forest produces (NTFPs) including medicinal plants.
  8. Natural beautification of cities and townships through Roadside/Median and Riverside plantations under Urban Forestry.
  9. Enforcement of Indian Forest Act, 1927; Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; and various laws to protect and conserve forests, tree cover and wildlife.
  10. Compliance of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  11. Generation of employment through forestry operations, and promote economic activities through the sustainable economic use of wood, bamboo, NTFPs and medicinal plants.
  12. Mass awareness generation about the importance for the protection of forests and wildlife.
  13. Intensify community participation in the management of natural resources.

            

For conservation of forests, moisture regime, prevent floods and maintain good growing stock of forest cover, the Forest Department takes up extensive plantation and afforestation activities annually under various Centrally and State-sponsored schemes namely, Re-stocking of the Reserved Forests, National Afforestation Program (NAP), Green India Mission (GIM), CAMPA, Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) Plan, Bamboo Development Mission, etc. Afforestation activities are also taken up on Community Lands/Farm Lands. In addition, to prevent the traditional practice of Shifting cultivation, economic rehabilitation of people engaged in such practices, is also taken up. Externally Aided Project through KFW Banking Group (Germany) is also being taken up for Catchment Area Treatment.

Manipur, having a larger area under hills, has natural springs, streams and fountains which are used by the community as perennial water resources. For conservation of such very important water resources for the community, the Forest Department is focusing on spring shed management by maintaining the forest covers in those areas and soil conservation measures.

To prevent soil erosion and landslides, and maintain topsoil and its fertility, soil conservation measures are taken up through the construction of engineering structures, rainwater harvesting structures and developing vegetative cover.

The community is also being encouraged to come forward to conserve and manage their forest areas and wildlife in hills with a sense of ownership through the declaration of “Community Reserves” under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The Community Reserve gives liberty to the community to manage their own resources in return for the commitment of protection and conservation of forest and wildlife from them. Moreover, the Forest Department intensifies development activities in the area to improve the socio-economic condition of the people. 

To encourage people’s participation in afforestation activities, every year “Vana Mahotsava” is celebrated in the first week of July month, and millions of seedlings are distributed by the Forest Department free of cost to the public. Moreover, during Vana Mahotsava, the Forest Department with community, takes up extensive plantation activities on community lands, schools/colleges, playgrounds, etc. 

Forest Department has established Protected Area Network over about 3.7% of the total geographical area of the State through notifications of following National Parks, Sanctuaries and Community Reserves for protection and in-situ conservation of wildlife: 

  • Keibul Lamjao National Park, Bishnupur District
  • Shirui National Park, Ukhrul District
  • Yangoupokpi Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary, Tengnoupal District
  • Kailam Wildlife Sanctuary, Churachandpur District
  • Jiri-Makru Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamenglong District
  • Bunning Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamenglong District
  • Zeilad Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamenglong District
  • Khongjeingamba Sanctuary, Bishnupur District
  • Pfunamai Community Reserve, Senapati District
  • Azuram Community Reserve, Tamenglong District
  • Chiibvi & Veimairii Community Reserve, Senapati District 
  • Thinungei Bird Sanctuary, Bishnupur District

Moreover, the Forest Department is also maintaining ex-situ conservation sites viz. Manipur Zoological Garden, Captive Breeding center of Sangai and a State Orchidarium at Imphal. Manipur Zoological garden houses about 50 endemic, endangered or rare species. In-State Orchidarium, about 343 orchid species including representative species from hills and valley of Manipur are conserved. 

In addition, the Forest Department is also implementing an ambitious project for the conservation of migratory Amur Falcon in Tamenglong District. The State falls in the East-Asian migratory flyway of Amur Falcon and many other migratory birds. The conservation of Amur Falcon is significant to secure agricultural production in the State as it eats on the pests of the crops. 

To promote economic activities in the State through sustainable use of forest resources, the Forest Department takes up plantations of Bamboo, Agar, other NTFPs, and Medicinal Plants. Training programmes are also organized for the manufacturing of bamboo products and the processing of NTFPs and medicinal plants. Efforts are also being made to develop market linkages. Social forestry plantations are also taken up to meet the requirement of fuelwood and fodder. 

Beautification of cities and townships are being taken up through Roadside and Median plantations along National/State Highways and District Roads. In order to beautify River banks, prevent a breach of river banks during floods and soil erosion, River-side plantations are also being taken up. 

Mass awareness generation for protection and conservation of forests and wildlife is taken up with the involvement of civil societies, academicians, community, students, local clubs, etc. through seminars, workshops, a celebration of Vana Mahotsava, Wildlife week, etc.

Investment Potential and Opportunities 

Business Enterprises

The State Forest Department and the State’s Industrial Policy provide a conducive mechanism to the business community for investment and development of business enterprises in the State. As the State’s economy revolves around forests, there is tremendous potential to set up business enterprises for:

  • Wood-based products like furniture, sports items, plywood/veneer, etc.;
  • Bamboo based products like building materials, furniture, Tiles, minor items like chopsticks, etc.;
  • Plant /Ayurvedic medicines based on Medicinal Plants;
  • Processing and manufacturing of products out of NTFPs;
  • Perfume manufacturing based on Agar Oil;
  • Rubber Wood products like furniture, building material, etc. 

Eco-tourism

As there are many National Parks and Sanctuaries with dense forests, meadows, lakes and endemic wildlife, the State provides an opportunity for the tourists to appreciate the beauty of nature. Forest Department encourages the private investment in PPP (Public-Private Partnership) mode to promote eco-tourism in its pristine areas having tremendous tourist potential. People from other regions of India and international tourists have shown great interest in exploring nature in Manipur. 

Bio-fuels

The state has conducive climatic conditions for tree species and bamboo species good for the production of biofuels. Since there is global demand to shift from fossil fuels to green fuels, the State presents an excellent opportunity to the investors to come forward for investments in raising plantations and setting up a plant for the production of biofuels. The Forest Department would facilitate the establishment of such enterprises. 

Carbon Trading

Carbon trading is the process of buying and selling permits and credits to emit carbon dioxide. Carbon trade is an exchange of credits between nations designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The carbon trade allows countries that have higher carbon emissions to purchase the right to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from countries that have lower carbon emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are capped and then markets are used to allocate the emissions among the group of regulated sources. The Forest Department provides scope to the investors to use forest areas for plantations which may act as carbon sinks. 

Commercial Orchid Farms

Manipur is blessed with a large number of rare, endemic and endangered beautiful orchid species. With the increasing florist markets and global demand particularly for orchids, there is tremendous scope for the investors to establish commercial ventures for the production of orchids. Even within the State and the Region, there is a huge demand for orchids which is not being met at present.

Research & Development

Manipur Forest Department has developed a small tissue culture laboratory, which may need further strengthening. The investors may find Manipur a suitable place for Research and Development in plant and animal products. The high yielding and fast-growing timber, bamboo, NTFP and biofuel species would be required to meet the global demand in years to come.

Opportunities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Public Sector Companies and Private companies spend a huge amount on advertisements for their products without developing public relations. Even after the publicity through various media, they are unable to touch the nerve of the people. The Forest Department encourages such companies to publicize themselves and their products in its areas through the following activities:

  • Sponsorship in the beautification of Roads, Roadside/Median Plantations and Riverside plantations.
  • Sponsorship in Training projects to communities for bamboo and NTFP based products to develop local economy and employment.
  • Sponsorship in the development of Eco-tourism in National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • Sponsorship/adoption of Zoo Animal enclosures.
  • Sponsorship in Spring shed management and construction of Rainwater harvesting structures in villages.