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Friday, January 3, 2014

Story of hope: JFMC Bhairabkunda in India

In a development that hold hopes for long term conservation amid the gloom of large scale deforestation in Assam specially in violence infested Udalguri district, villagers of six villages on the India-Bhutan border at Bhairabkunda joined hands successfully regenerating a stretch of barren sandy forest land. The results of this quiet community initiative done under joint forest management (JFMC) are evident with the regenerated forest expanse of 5 sq KM already emerging as a shelter of wild animals and birds. The 22.24 sq KM Bhairabkunda Reserve Forest (RF)was left without a single tree by the early 1980s due to rampant illegal logging. Afforestation drive by forest Deptt. in association of people of six villages namely- Sonaigaon, Bhairabpur,Goroimari, Sapangaon, No.1 Mazargaon and No.2 Mazargaon started in April 2007 and within five years a spectacular man made forest known as JFMC forest has grown up at Sapangaon by converting plot of barren sandy lands measuring 500 hectare (5 sq KM) in to a new picturesque forest by planting khoir,gomari,simul,shisum etc near Dhansiri river,very close to Bhutan and Arunachal.
Conservation activists hoped that the place would draw the attention of tourists all over the world,if government developed infrastructure of the area. The regenerated forest land now has rich vegetation and has given shelter to wild elephants, deer, monkeys, leopard, bears etc beside various species of flora.A small river with several canals -a few of those man made runs throughout the forest ,providing replenishment for the green cover.They have already planted more than ten lakhs of saplings in the man made forest. Nature loving office bearers of JFMC,namely Esmail Daimari,Elision Daimari, Lenin Daimari, Bimal Daimari, Purna Daimari,Atul Basumatari,Prenson Daimari,Pilup Daimari, Alfred Daimari, Helena Basumatari and Someswari Daimari believe that with some support from Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) the area can be developed as an ideal eco- tourism hub. With rivers criss-crossing the verdant Assam-Bhutan-Arunachal border and the Bhairabkunda Reserve Forest providing some undulating trekking trails ,there is a definite scope for promoting tourism. Although the forest has been recognized as an ideal place for shooting of films or documentaries etc, but infrastructure bottlenecks like absence of light,toilet or accommodation etc have compelled producers or interested persons to go to other locations. Nature loving people of Udalguri including members of the JFMC hope that, BTC authority,district administration,forest department would come forward for accommodation and sanitation facilities in the greater interest of eco-tourism prospect in the district.Its great to see the villagers working in the forest day and night forgetting even their own families.Can we spare time to meet and encourage them?

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