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Sikkim Preserve its Forest Cover & Forge Amity Between People & Trees

Sikkim Government with an objective to revive the practice of its natives’ age-old tradition of forging brotherhood relationship with trees: a cultural practice that establishes nature conservation as a way of life for the people; and in order to create a sense of responsibility in people towards caring and nurturing trees and plants; has allowed people from the state to forge fraternal ties with trees. State Forests Department has issued notification titled Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017; to preserve trees by encouraging people to forge relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through traditional practice locally known as Mitini or Mith/Mit. As per the notification Sikkim Government allows:

  • Mitini, Mith/Mit: Person can associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into Mitini relationship with a tree:
    • “Mitini relationship” means forging of a relationship with and regarding of a tree as a brother by a woman;
    • “Mith/Mit relationship” means forging of a relationship with and regarding of a tree as a brother by a man;
  • Adopted Tree: Person can also adopt a tree as if it was his/her own child, in which case the tree will be called adopted tree.
  • Smriti Tree: Person can also associate with trees by preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a smriti tree.

If a tree standing on private land is not under the ownership of the person who wishes to enter into any relationship as mentioned above, the person shall execute an agreement with the owner and compensate him or her fully in terms of the market value of the timber or wood that is contained in it.

In case person desires to enter into a relationship with a tree located on public land then permission from the Assistant Conservator of Forests shall be sought on prescribed forms and after verification the tree will be registered in the name of the person concerned.

Felling of a tree registered under the aforesaid rules in violation of the provisions of these rules shall be treated as a forest offence and will be punishable as provided under the Act.

Sikkim is one of cleanest and greenest north-eastern States. As per Forest Survey of India, 2015 forest cover of Sikkim is 47.80% of State’s total geographical area. State government has also started an initiative of identifying heritage trees where 21 trees of 25-ft. girth and above and 32 trees of 20-25 ft. girth have been demarcated as heritage trees since past few years.  The recent notification has given formal recognition to age-old tradition of promoting amity between man and nature, particularly trees, as the State is keen to preserve its forest cover and forge amity between people and trees as well.

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