Planted forests can tackle flood and erosion impacts along the Brahmaputra

Author

Nabarun Guha

Source(s)
Mongabay

A new study that examined the plant diversity and carbon stock of 39-year-old human created forest, Molai Kathoni in Assam, and a natural forest of comparable age, shows that a mixed tree species plantation in Brahmaputra’s degraded floodplains can be a viable nature-based solution to address flood and erosion impacts. The Molai Kathoni forest on the Majuli river island, was created using mixed species planted by Padma Shri Jadav Payeng, now popularly known as a the ‘Forest Man of India’.

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The researchers found that plant species composition, plant diversity, and carbon stocks after 39 years of the plantation were similar to those in the natural forest (in Jorhat district) studied as a reference.

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Flood and erosion are two perennial problems of Assam which have impacted the life, livelihood and economy of the state over many years. As per the data from national flood commission, the Rashtriya Barh Ayog (RBA), 39.58% of the total land area of Assam can be called flood prone. The flood-prone area of the entire country meanwhile stands at 10.2% of its total area. Erosion is another serious issue as thousands of families are rendered homeless every year with large chunks of land lost to the mighty Brahmaputra. Data from Assam’s Water Resource Department shows 7.40% of the area of the state has been washed away by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries since 1950.

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The researchers recommend mixed-species plantations on the flood plains. Gogoi said that earlier, social forestry was used to identify some species helpful for soil conservation and trees like sishu and simolu were planted.

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