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#MillionMoreTrees: The Molaikathoni Nursery Project

Image Courtesy: The Climate Project Foundation

The eponymous Molaikathoni, named after “Molai”, now known as the Forest man of India, is the inspiration for the Molaikathoni Nursery Project. Jadav Payeng has been planting in the famous forest on a sandbar called Arunachapori for over a period of forty-three years now. This one-of-a-kind forest now is now home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Elephant, Indian Rhinoceros, deer, reptiles, and hundreds of species of birds, including endangered vultures.

Launched on World Water Day 2022, the Molaikathoni Nursery Project India is an initiative of The Climate Project Foundation in association with the Forest Man Foundation and the Indigenous People’s Climate Justice Forum. The objective of the nursery is to facilitate the forestation efforts of the large, barren sandbars abundant in the region, replicating the success of the Molaikathoni forest.

Image Courtesy: Author

The nursery is located at a short distance from the forest, ensuring a seasonal source of native saplings, seeds, and cuttings to nurture before replantation. The species planted include Pride of India, Elephant Apple, Moringa, Jackfruit, Black Plum, Bullet Wood, Amberalla, Burmese Grape, Red Silk Cotton, Indian Jujube, English Beechwood, False White Teak, Custard Apple, Mango, Guava, Lemon, etc.

Image Courtesy: Diputa Muli

There is a plan to set up 3 other nurseries across Assam as repositories of native species ready to be replanted in deforested areas. It may be mentioned here that the latest Forest Survey of India reports have pointed to a loss of forest cover in Assam and the northeast while showing a positive growth rate in other parts of the country. These nurseries will be an outstanding contribution to combat deforestation and biodiversity loss and enhance carbon sequestration throw intensive forestation initiatives.

Image Courtesy: Author

Image Courtesy: Author

Additionally, a recent study of the Molaikathoni forest found it to be a “major carbon sink” with substantial carbon sequestration nearly four decades after the plantation started. Based on the research, “Planted Forest can be a preferable ecosystem management tool to fulfil the objectives of biodiversity conservation and provisioning climate services like C sequestration.” The nursery will continue to help in expanding the most effective climate action available to the flood and erosion-affected indigenous community.

Visitors to the Molaikathoni forest have acknowledged the nursery project as a scalable and replicable grassroots climate action led by indigenous communities. The outcomes include the preservation of biodiversity, water and food security, preservation of traditions, knowledge systems, cultures, and livelihoods dependent on flora and fauna, and enhanced resilience to frequent floods and erosion.

Image Courtesy: Author

The project has provided livelihood to some villagers for several months, directly motivating the communities to participate in the conservation of the forest and the wildlife species. This project is accepted as an initiative that will also protect traditional indigenous knowledge systems, increase resilience to floods and erosion, preserve biodiversity, and ensure food security. The Molaikathoni Nursery Project will be sustained by the local communities and the nursery will continue to provide saplings of native species for the forestation efforts.

Here are 5 facts about Molaikothani Nursery. Watch the video here:

Watch the video here

About the Author:

Rituraj Phukan is an environmental writer, adventurer & naturalist based out of Assam. He serves as the National Coordinator for Biodiversity, Climate Reality India and is a member of the IUCN.

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