Tree Plantation on Orans; Sacred Community Land in Rajasthan
By Aman Singh - Chief
During this monsoon, KRAPAVIS (Krishi Avam Paristhitiki Vikas Sansthan) has planted about 10000 tree saplings on the orans land, located in the Aravalli Hill Range of Rajsthan. The plantation has been done through women self help groups (SHGs). The most common tree species are planted which used for fodder by the pastoralists include Prosopis cineraria, Acacia sp., Zizyphus and Anogeissus pendula. Prosopis cineraria and the Accacia sp are propagated because of their drought tolerance and ability to fix nitrogen. Both species, during the time immediately before the monsoon or in times of severe drought, “provide fodder when other tree species become devoid in foliage.” On average, the semi-arid district of Alwar in the north-eastern end of the Aravalli Hill Range annually receives less than 600 mm of rainfall. The vegetative landscape consists of sparse dry land grass intermingled with thorny, desert shrub and small stands of dry, deciduous forest. Forest groves or Orans are most often located between hills where there is a spring or watering hole. The two major social groups living in this area that utilize as well as worship the sacred forest groves are the Meenas and the Gujars. The Meenas are settled agriculturalists and make up 40% of the population while the Gujars are nomadic pastoralists and constitute around 32% of the population. Both depend on the Orans for fuel, medicinal plants, fruits, and fodder for their livestock. According to the pastoralists, the Orans provide them with indispensable vegetation to feed their cattle. In addition to grazing grounds, shady Orans afford a resting spot and a refuge from the scorching Rajasthani sun to both livestock and the herders. Co-management and worship of the Orans by the villagers and pastoralists contributed to greater species diversity in cultivated and wild plants as well as guaranteed sustainable access to all members of the community.
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