The small, hilly state in northeast India, Sikkim has plenty of factors to attract people from other states and countries. The beautiful landscape, wildlife zones and rich Buddhist heritage make it enthralling but Sikkim has more in store to lure visitors. The state is a pioneer in undertaking green initiatives that have deep impact on lives of people and go a long way in preservation of natural resources. After becoming India’s first fully organic state in 2016, Sikkim now boasts of a unique nature conservation policy- a move that allows the residents to adopt trees.
Roots of Tree adoption law of Sikkim
The residents of Sikkim have a deep bond with nature, as it is. The earliest settlers of the state, the Lepchas worship nature as deity and they worship the Mount Khangchendzonga with utmost devotion and respect. So, the introduction of tree adoption program does not exactly come as a surprise. This joint move by the state govt and forest department will go a long way in preserving trees in the state.
Nuances of the Tree adoption law
The unique new law has been framed under the ‘Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017’. It has been issued by the state’s Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management Department. The CM P Chamling came up with the idea of tree adoption and suggested it to the Chief Conservator of Forests, Thomas Chandy. The law enables residents of Sikkim to develop 3 kinds of bonds with trees.
• An individual (man or woman) may enter a Mitini relationship which is equivalent of taking sibling, with a tree.
• Trees can be adopted as kids.
• A tree can be registered in memory of someone close and deceased. In this case, it is called a smriti tree.
Trees adopted in these ways, cannot be damaged or felled, as per the govt rules.
The process of adopting trees
Unusual as it may sound to some, the procedure for adopting tree in Sikkim is not complicated as such. The steps involved are:
• The tree chosen for adoption can be either in the property of a person or in public space. The owner has to be paid the amount of timber value and both parties need to get into an agreement.
• The state govt offers a special form in its website which needs to be filled by the applicant who wants to adopt the tree.
• The Assistant Conservator of Forests is going to investigate the tree’s status for adoption and will approve later.
• After completion of the entire procedure, the forest department will issue an adoption certificate to the applicant.