Pocket Forest – A Way for Mitigation of Climate Change

Gautam Kumar Das

Pocket forests are considered for the urban areas only, either in and around the urban zone, or adjacent/outskirts of the town or metropolitan areas. Covering areas for this typical type of forests might be of several hectares or even less than a hectare because of the scarcity of land availability in the urban zone, and then this forest might be defined as Mini Forests. The mini forests can be squeezed into playground or along the roadside areas where only the saplings of the native plants are considered for plantation programme under social forestry schemes. The pocket forest or mini forest is introduced by a Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki and his idea to recreate such pocket forests has already been implemented in the different countries in the European Union. Native trees of the pocket forests grow vigorously, and it is ten times faster than those of the natural forests. Pocket forests recreate hundred times more biodiversity and sequester carbon forty times more to store carbon into the soils of the forest floors in comparison to the conventional forests. Generation of pocket forests through the process of afforestation requires native or indigenous plant species where density of vegetation is the key and reach of sunlight upon the planted young saplings is essential for their growth. Growing stock of the pocket forests will form wildlife corridor for the common faunal community of the region such as butterflies, snails, amphibians and so on, and attract the pollinators. Present day biodiversity crisis might be enriched for such introduction of the pocket forests in the urban areas that at least provide the snack for the songbirds. Pocket forests, studded with the treelines and layers of local natural forest is a green and cheap way to store carbon into soil, and thus, form rich carbon pool in the urban zone.

Plantation of trees is the best way to combat the impact of climate change as the forest health and the climate change are intrinsically linked. Conserving and improving carbon through soil management and land use patterns can help mitigating climate change, improve the quality of degraded land and water and after all address the resilient nature of living for all. Kulik Bird Sanctuary, stood in the vicinity of Raiganj town of Uttar Dinajpur district, is an example of such pocket forest where 90,000 to 1,00,000 migratory birds come and stay for the period from June to February every year particularly in the breeding season. Among them, open billed stork (Anastomus oscitans), little cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger), night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), grey heron (Ardea cinera), cattle egret (Bulbulcus ibis) and little egret (Egretta garzetta) are the dominant avian species. Open billed stork is found maximum out of the other bird species during the breeding season. There are no non-native plant species occurred in the Kulik Bird Sanctuary and the principal timber tree species are Jarul (Lagerstoemia speciosa), Hijal (Barringtonia acutangula), Pitali (Trewia nudiflora), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna), Chhatim (Alstonia scholaris) and Dewa (Phalaria macrocarpa). Covered with the green canopy along the entire forest areas, this avian sanctuary, situated adjacent to the Raiganj town area at the Kulik river bank, not only attracts tourists round the year and become a source of income for the forest department, but  decelerate the contents of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and such other gases emerged in the town areas due greenhouse gas emission. Consequently, concentration of carbon dioxide is comparatively low in this district headquarter of the Uttar Dinajpur district as the green treelines of the pocket forest, the Kulik Bird Sanctuary absorbs most of the volume of the carbon dioxide emitted from the urban belt, and thus, the pocket forest helps to mitigate the effects of the climate change and save the urban people from the effects of the air pollution. The forest officials and managers might format well-planned projects to set about plantations for the implementation of such pocket forests in the wastelands or bad lands of the municipal areas and metropolitan region under social forestry and urban agroforestry schemes all over the state of West Bengal.

Oct 24, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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