2002- Ongoing

Garo Green Spine Conservation Project

Garo Hills, Meghalaya

Key details

About the project

Photo gallery

Key species

2002- Ongoing

Garo Green Spine Conservation Project

Garo Hills, Meghalaya

Key details

Aim of the restoration project

Biodiversity conservation, securing corridors and restoring degraded habitats The restoration component of the Garo Green Spine Conservation project aims to secure connectivity by between Nokrek National Park and Balphakram National Park by restoration of degraded jhum lands through plantation and Assisted Natural Regeneration processes.

What was the condition of the land before restoration? And what are the past and current disturbances?

Degraded, devoid of natural vegetation, and reduced soil fertility. Poor land use, unsustainable cultivation practices like Jhum, over grazing and exploitation of shared forest resources are disturbances that have existed in the past and some of which continue to, but have substantially been regulated over the years in the project sites due to project’s efforts

What are the restoration activities that were/are being carried out?

In 2009, we initiated a habitat restoration project that led to restoration of 190 hectares of jhummed (Slash and burned cultivation) and fallow land in Garo Hills.

Between 2009 and 2012, we undertook the restoration activities with annual survival count measured. Periodic de-weeding and gap filling in previous years helped in good survival of the plants as well as regeneration of new plants in the restoration area. The no. of different species was also calculated during the annual plantation count. In the second phase of the restoration project, 150 hectares of degraded lands were restored via the same approach in South Garo Hills between 2019-21

Through the restoration project, a total of 340 hectares of degraded forest lands were restored with over 350,000 standing trees belonging to approx. 150 native species across community forests of 16 villages.

The protection of the restored area by the members of local communities has been the main reason for this success. Watchers have been appointed from the community for regular monitoring of these restoration sites and to protect them from trespassers and livestock. The watchers also organize village coordination meetings to discuss local conservation issues and engage them in periodic de-weeding for removal of invasive weeds. Hand de-weeding of these restoration sites are done every year until the trees come to mature in 5-6 years. These engagement activities have financially supported 300 – 350 villagers with 40% youth and 60% elders.

Local species of vegetation were also staging a comeback as the protection and conservation regime improved over the years

Biodiversity assessment of the restored sites is also carried out and information collated along parameters indicating health of the forest ecosystem. This serves as an indicator to measure the success of the restoration work done

Area of the project

Garo Green Spine total area: 99,200 hectares of which 4200 hectares secured as Village Reserve Forests and restoration work undertaken in 340 hectares


Garo Hills, Meghalaya


50-1500 m

Annual rainfall

2865 mm


9°C to 36°C

About the project

Spanning across 8000 sq.km, and as part of the Indo-Burmese biodiversity hotspot, the Garo Hills in the state of Meghalaya support an incredibly rich biodiversity. The Garo Hills Elephant Reserve has three protected areas, a reserve forest and five elephant corridors, which together link around 1500-1700 elephants. The project area is also part of the proposed Garo Hills Conservation Area (GHCA) proposed for inclusion in World Heritage site by the Indian Government. Interestingly, only 7-8% of the forested area in the Garo Hills is under the control of the Meghalaya Forest Department; the remaining area is owned by local communities under the management and jurisdiction of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC).

Unscientific mining and age-old practices such as slash-and-burn cultivation or jhum have been drivers of deforestation and fragmentation hindering the movement of wildlife and leading to human-wildlife conflict. To address this, Wildlife Trust of India, with support from partners, has been working with the local council (GHADC) and the state forest department for almost two decades to secure and restore the forest patches located between West Garo Hills and Nokrek National Park with a view to establishing wilderness connectivity with Balpakram National Park (BNP) which is titled as the Garo Green Spine forming the backbone of biodiversity of the region. As a result of these collaborative efforts, two main elephant corridors in the region (Siju- Rewak and Rewak-Emangre corridors) have already been secured and local communities have further voluntarily set aside and protected close to 4200 hectares of land as 20 Village Reserve Forests (VRFs). Efforts are on to secure the remaining two corridors (Baghmara-Balphakram and Nokrek-Emangre) through the same approach.

In addition to this, an area of 340 hectares of degraded forest patches have been restored through plantation and Assisted Natural Regeneration. This is an affirmation of the indigenous rights, self-government and community empowerment creating a multi-level impact resulting in not just wildlife habitat protection but also a positive social impact on the communities with regards to their livelihood and lifestyle. Such conservation measures can be a big step towards sustainable environmental protection in the long term.


, , and

Get in touch

Team: Sunil Kyarong and Balsreng Sangma
Rimachi Leisan, Karthik Pandi, Marifat Ul-Haq, Sandeep Tiwari, Upasana Ganguly
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments