Vodafone India and Grow-Trees.com, the Indian Planting Partner for United Nation’s Environment Program’s Billion Tree Campaign, recently announced the successful completion of Phase 1 and 2 of their joint project to improve the wildlife corridor between Kanha - Pench wildlife reserves by planting 200,000 trees on 200 hectares of forest land. Launched in August 2014, this project will by next year have a total of 300,000 trees planted over 300 hectares of forest land between Kanha Tiger Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Pench in Maharashtra. In phase 1, 100,000 saplings were planted near Rata village last year and in phase 2, another 100,000 saplings were planted near Dhodhara village earlier this year. Both the villages are located in Mandla district.
Sharing details about Vodafone’s support to the project, Manish Kumar – Business Head, MPCG, Vodafone India, said, “Vodafone India is committed to supporting sustainable initiatives that benefit all – the organisation, the community and the environment. Madhya Pradesh is endowed with rich and diverse forest resources. With 9 national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries, almost 25% of the state is covered with forests. With this initiative, we are able to add to its green cover, support the conservation of its flora and fauna and facilitate habitat connectivity in tiger breeding areas. In addition, we will also create livelihood opportunities for local communities, enable reforestation and offset carbon footprint generated by our offices every year for 3-years.”
This project will create about 25,000 workdays of direct jobs mainly for women and tribals inhabiting the area in addition to supporting several allied livelihood generating activities such as farming, fruit and honey gathering etc. on a sustained basis. The site is in Sijhora Range and would be jointly protected by three villages- Majhipur, Jogisoda and Chandiya. A variety of trees, including Karani, Harra, Baheda, Bamboo, Khamer, Ladiya, Mango and Amla, that are local to the region will be planted. Saplings of these were grown in the special nurseries funded by Grow-Trees.com.
Speaking on the occasion, Bikrant Tiwary, CEO, Grow-Trees.com, said, “Approximately 45% of India's land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, mining and excessive groundwater extraction. More than two thirds of this can be regenerated and our endeavour is to facilitate this by providing planting opportunities to individual and corporate customers. We are delighted to have Vodafone India as our corporate partner to support this novel project of wildlife corridors for enlarging wildlife habitats. The size and scale of this private corridor reforestation initiative is the biggest till date in the country. The planting process on site will be led by our on ground partner FES.”
About Kanha and Pench Tiger reserves
Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and Pench Tiger Reserve straddling Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are important habitats for the tiger population in central India. As tigers need large home ranges to ensure population viability, it is important to ensure habitat connectivity between different breeding areas. The Kanha– Pench corridor therefore gains high importance in the efforts to save the tiger and other wildlife. Such a corridor is vital for the long term survival and viability of tigers as it connects smaller tiger populations in Pench to larger populations such as at Kanha.
Without these linkages tiger populations isolated within individual tiger reserves face a higher risk of extinction due to poaching and loss in genetic vigour over generations. A tiger straying out of a forest also has to confront a range of challenges such as hostile villagers, retaliatory poisoning for livestock kills, poaching, and electrocution by live wires, apart from road and rail traffic that cause further fragmentation of forest cover. The trees planted will help improve the forest connectivity between Kanha and Pench and provide a sheltered corridor for tigers and animals to traverse between the two reserves.