“How a small community in the northeastern corner of India became the country’s first green village”
by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues
Ensia, March 29, 2019
Khonoma, India’s first ‘Green Village’
Khonoma, a sleepy village in the remote state of Nagaland in northeastern India, has the distinction of being the country’s first ‘Green Village’. Inhabited by people of the Angami tribe, this village has put aside its traditional hunting and tree-cutting lifestyle, and adopted a community-led conservation approach. After nearly 300 endangered Blyth’s Tragopan (Tragopan blythii) were killed in a mass hurting spree, the village elders got together to establish the Khonoma Nature and Conservation Trust and Tragopan Sanctuary in 1998. This is India’s first-ever community conservation project. In addition to the Blyth’s Tragopan and many rare bird species, this 25 sq.km. sanctuary is also home to several endangered mammals including clouded leopards and black bears.
Furthermore, this agriculture-dependent village has implemented several initiatives to ensure sustainable farming. Paddy is cultivated at the base of hills so that the nutrient-rich water from the hill-slope forests, flows directly into the fields. Farm lands are enriched by planting nitrogen-fixing Nepalese Alder (Alnus nepalensis) trees. This keeps the land fertile, and eliminates the need to clear forests to procure more land for agriculture. The Alder trees are revered, and never cut down for firewood. Instead, only their branches are pollared after the tree has reached a height of about 7-8 ft. The branches re-propagate and are cut after a specified number of years. Some of the Alder trees in Khonoma are said to be nearly 200 years old.
Khonoma’s community-led conservation and sustainable farming initiatives, serves as a model, not only for other villages in Nagaland, but also for the rest of India.
I will be visiting Khonoma next week to interview some of the village elders responsible for Khonoma’s ‘green village’ status. Would a piece about Khonoma be of interest to you / Ensia? I look forward to your thoughts.
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