Tropical forest restoration in Eastern Himalaya

Darlong village, Arunachal Pradesh

Key details

About the project

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Key species


Tropical forest restoration in Eastern Himalaya

Darlong village, Arunachal Pradesh

Key details

Aim of the restoration project

Restoring native tree species richness and tree cover, recovering ecosystem structure and ecological functioning of the forest that would contribute to biodiversity conservation as well as provide provisional and regulatory ecosystem services, also for maintaining connectivity (wildlife habitat corridors).

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

The Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) has a history of anthropogenic disturbances like hunting and logging or clearing for agriculture. Due to the past human disturbances and a few cases of natural forest fires, there continue to be patches of degraded forest that have not shown natural recovery. In the surrounding Reserved Forests, selective logging occurred till a Supreme court ban in 1996. However, illegal logging still continues in these Reserved Forests resulting in a significant loss of forest cover. There are also existing villages and settlements that use the forests for timber and NTFP for subsistence use. Some parts of the area are under rice cultivation, while other areas have been converted to rubber plantations and for growing other crops.

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

  1. Seed collection: Native tree species seeds are collected from the roadsides, river beds to grow in the nursery.
  2. Nursery management: Over 75 native tree species are raised at the nursery with year-round maintenance activities. The nursery stocks around 10,000 seedlings and saplings at any given time.
  3. Site selection: Sites are selected based on the prior land use, degradation level, accessibility, and various other factors.
  4. Site preparation: Invasive species are removed prior to planting.
  5. Planting: Carried out at the onset of monsoon i.e. in May-June every year.
  6. Post-planting site maintenance: Weeds are cleared around the saplings after planting at a regular interval of 2-3 months.
  7. Monitoring: Saplings are monitored for survival after planting by counting the live saplings at an interval of 6 months. At some sites, growth rate measurement of a subset of the saplings is also taken.
  8. Community engagement workshops: A workshop on concepts and practices of restoration has been conducted and we would engage in more such activities of capacity building and outreach in future.

Area of the project

12.10 ha in 11 degraded open forest patches


Darlong village, Arunachal Pradesh


100 - 300 m

Annual rainfall

2500 mm


13.6°C to 33.5°C

About the project

We have been conducting extensive research on various aspects of hornbill ecology for over two decades in Arunachal Pradesh. The broader vision of this work is to see hornbill conservation and protection of their habitats, integrated into local community institutions, with our technical and scientific support. Restoring the degraded forest patches in Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) and the surrounding Reserved Forest (RF) for ensuring the availability of suitable hornbill habitat in the future, was one of the objectives of this broader goal. With this objective, the restoration project was initiated in 2014. It is being done in partnership with the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department.

After the first two years of setting up a rainforest nursery in Seijosa, a fringe village of PTR, the planting activities began in 2016. Over the years, we have scaled up from growing 25 species to 75 species, which are important bird- and mammal-dispersed and mechanically-dispersed native tree species. From 2016 to 2021, we have planted 9617 saplings of 50-60 mixed species in 7.31 ha of degraded forest patches inside PTR and the RF.

Planting activities are carried out at the onset of the monsoon in May-June every year after identifying sites during the dry season. Planting is followed by maintaining and monitoring the sites. Maintenance is done by frequent weed clearing around the saplings during the first 2-3 years after planting. Monitoring progress involves collecting data on sapling survival and growth rate at an interval of 5-6 months. Our sites inside PTR and the RFs show 31-56 % survival after 2.5-3 years. Our recently published article provides critical information on the early-stage performance in terms of survival and growth of the native tree species which is needed to generate a preliminary list of species suitable for restoration (Borawake et al. 2021).

We have provided 3253 saplings to a few tea estates in nearby Assam state. Planting is done in open areas in the estates to increase shade and tree cover. The monitoring shows 69% survival after 2 years at these sites. The survival is higher than the forest sites as these areas are fenced, well-maintained, and wildlife activity is absent. We also encourage the participation of the local community in the restoration efforts and a certain proportion of saplings are sold at a nominal cost (Rs. 20/30) to the local people. The locals are dependent on the forests for timber and other forest resources. By growing these native species, they will be able to harvest timber in the future for subsistence and we hope this will eventually prevent tree felling in the forested areas.

We have also participated in and provided saplings for planting initiatives by various local organizations or the Forest Department. These saplings have been planted along the river banks, roadsides, schools and government office premises. We acknowledge the efforts of Amruta Rane and Rohit Naniwadekar who helped in setting up this project, and Late Anita Mallick, Late Kumar Thapa and Late Tali Nabam, who were an important part of our field team.


Get in touch

Team: Dr. Aparajita Datta & Noopur Borawake
Khem Thapa, Narayan Mogar, Sital Dako, Sagar Kino, Kamala Mogar
Address: Nature Conservation Foundation, 1311, “Amritha”, 12th A Main, Vijayanagar 1st stage, Mysore 570017, KARNATAKA
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