In a move that would revive the community forests in Tsirang, farmers are preparing to replant trees.

The focus is more on degraded areas and barren forests. In such areas, bushes are being cleared and inferior trees felled to make space for new plantation.

Under scorching sun last week, at least 37 members of the Norbuchholing community forest  (CF) of Toedsang chiwog in Barshong cleared the overgrowth. Until afternoon they could clear about two hectares.

Chairman of the CF, Karna Bahadur Tamang, said that there is an increasing demand for better quality hard wood. The readily available mature wood from the community forest is mostly soft wood, which is least in demand.

“We do have hardwood in the CF but it might get extinct soon. To meet the demand in the future, we’re planting new saplings,” he said.

He added that farmers are in need of quality timber to make furniture.

Tsirang has 45 community forests in its 12 gewogs. With the oldest establishment in Sergithang gewog, the gewog also has the maximum numbers of CF at six.

Tsirang forest division officials said at least two hectares of area is identified for replantation in most CFs. New plantation will be carried out in more than 40 hectares of forest in the dzongkhag.

Deputy chief forest officer Gyem Tshering said that within community forests, there are areas that have degraded or have remained barren. “The unwanted and inferior species will be removed and species of farmer’s preference will be planted,” he said.

The farmer’s preference he said will be from the indigenous species such as Michelia species and Terminalia species. These trees grow faster for farmers to reap the benefit sooner. “Some of the species we’ll be planting are almost extinct in other parts of the country,” he said.

He added that for the replantation on over 40 hectares area, Punatsangchhu Hydro Power Authority II is funding the cost of barbed wire and saplings. At least Nu 98,000 has been allocated for every two hectares of CF.

Gyem Tshering said that at least 1,600 saplings would be required to fill two-hectare land. All plantations will be complete by the end of June.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang