In today’s times, when world is battling with climatechange crisis, Clonal forestry for degraded lands provides a golden opportunity of making money grow on trees! “Deployment of tested clones” offers great potential for propagating selected trees with desirable traits. It ensures that all the trees reach harvestable stage at the same time and with the same morphological and chemical characteristics. Large scale use of these identified and tested clones with valuable properties in degraded lands can reap multiple benefits.
The use of high-yielding clones of Melia Dubia for such initiative would immensely help in uplifting the living standards of farmers’ communities; add to green cover and also save the huge foreign remittances being made for imports of timber. Current estimate show that about 65% of the country’s timber requirement is met from the tree on farms.
New clones of Melia Dubia, Eucalyptus, Poplar, Shisham, Casuarina, Gmelina, Teak and other woody species can provide good support to growers in terms of better returns through high yield from their plantations. Clonal Forestry on stressed sites can also include local species for improvement programs as these species can better adapt to the local climatic conditions.
Silvicultural properties including straightness, narrow crown, self-pruning, high growth rates, adaptability to a wide range of soils and climates, coppicing ability, a tendency not to spread as a weed and wide utility of wood are some of the main features of Melia Dubia/ Eucalyptus clones making them popular among farmers for rising as block plantations.
It’s understood that the face veneer depends on the timber species which is used. As good species like MD/ MC, Mahogany etc. are not readily available. The research being done by FRI for producing/cloning new alternatives like Melia Dubia sounds promising. The 40-50’ feet tall trees of Melia Dubia have girth which is good enough to peel 4-5 pieces of 8’ Face veneers or 8’ long panel core of good quality
Clonal plantations in agro forestry offers an opportunity to increase livelihood security, reduce vulnerability to climate and environmental changes, increase resilience of farming systems and contribute substantially towards meeting demands of rising population for food, fruits, fuel-wood, timber, fodder, bio-fuel and bio energy.
HOWEVER, VARIOUS CHALLENGES PERSIST!
Wood is the prime source for industries like Ply wood, Pole, Furniture and Pulp and Paper industries. Continuous decline of supply of industrial round wood from government owned forests and growing demand by various industries has created a demand-supply mismatch which has always been a big concern.
Commercial scale introduction of genetically improved, field tested and high yielding clones of Poplars and Eucalypts-supported with technical extension services can accelerate expansion of agroforestry plantations in many states of India.
FEW OTHER CHALLENGES WHICH NEED TO BE ADDRESSED ARE
- Meeting high demand for clones and seedlings as compared to current production i.e. Supply of highquality planting stock of genetically superior fieldtested clones.
- Integrating a breeding and selection programme into the project to sustain clonal propagation.
- Initiating a clonal propagation programme for indigenous species.
- Providing technical guidance and extension services to farmers for raising and maintenance of these plantations.
- Buy back guarantees to the farmers of purchase of their produce on maturity with assured support price
- Long term bank finance for large-scale clonal plantations on degraded lands through nationalized banks under an umbrella project.
- R&D support for such projects including development, testing and deployment of new superior clones.
- Need of awareness about clonal plantations with agriculture crop is a must to ensure the net productivity from both Plantation and crop.
- We must put forward a framework for action that will satisfy regional, national and local needs of all stakeholders and put our country at the forefront of global trends in clonal forestry development.
WRITER, MR. JOLLY is a Member of ICFRE Society, Member of the Managing Committee of FIPPI, Member of Steering Committee of IPRITI (Mohali), Life Member of IWST (Bangalore), Vice-President of Editorial Board of Wood is Good magazine published by ICFRE Society and Member of B.I.S - CED Committee.