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Tree Plantation Techniques for Nagaland.




  1. Tree Plantation Techniques for Nagaland.
  1. Selection of Species
  1. Seed Collection
  1. Seed Treatment
  1. Nursery Technique
  1. Seedling Preparation for Plantation.
  1. Preparation of Rootshoot Stump
  1. Preparation of Planting Sites.
  1. Spacing of Trees in Jhum Cultivation
  1. How to Plant Rootshot Stump.
  1. Species Mixture in Plantation
  1. Weeding



The only activity in which Nagas can excel over others is in Timber production. Timber production does not require any sophisticated factories or skilled labour. The only pre-requisite is plentiful rainfall, salubrious climate, suitable soil, fast growing tree species, and availability of vacant land for planting;- all of which are abundantly available in  Nagaland.

Agriculture today has developed to such a sophistication that even in the under developed countries it is done with animal backbone; while the developed countries are doing Agriculture now even with Steel backbone machines. But in Nagaland today, even in this age of computers, agriculture is done with human backbone and with the ancient Dao and Hoe. Agriculture in a mountainous country like Nagaland do not have the potential to generate economy for the people beyond bare subsistence.

However, no matter how much technologically advanced a people may be, if they are not self sufficient in food grains, they cannot have a sense of well being. So the first consideration in the development of the economy of Nagaland is the attainment of self sufficiency in food grain production.  Nagaland must first be self sufficient in its food grain production, and to do this, the jhum cultivation practice which consume the overwhelming part of the village labour, must be converted to a more productive activity. The activity must be translated into production of industrial raw material, and this can be achieved only by transforming jhum cultivation into an industrial practice of timber production rather than the traditional practice of agriculture. Jhum cultivation would then be transformed into the process of producing one of the costliest industrial raw materials of the modern age, timber.

With plentiful rainfall ( 2000 mm), tropical to temperate climate, gentle topography (200-3800 M), immense varieties of fast growing tree species, and vast vacant lands, tree plantation with jhum cultivation has tremendous potential to produce Timber and thus catapult the economy of the poor Naga villagers into an industrial economy within one generation. Tree Plantation through jhum cultivation will usher in an Economic Revolution in Naga Society.

Tree can be planted here and there by any persons, but tree plantation in such vast economic scale needs among others Technical Planning, Organization and even Legal backings. The techniques mentioned here are not the last word on the subject; but these are a combination of Forestry techniques with experiences of Forest officials gained since the State of Nagaland was formed in 1963, and hence contain considerable practical applicability, and hence contain considerable practical applicability.

                   GROW TREE AND GROW RICH.


The first point to be decided in any tree plantation venture is the Species Selection. This would depend on the elevation of the location, because trees that grow in high elevation may not grow well in lower elevation and vice versa. In a mountainous area elevation plays a very important role in the success or failure of a species. To facilitate tree plantation, three Elevation Zones in Nagaland are recognized.

Low Elevation Zone : 100 meters to 750 metes (333’-2500’). The fast growing that do well in this zone are:

1. Tectona grandis                                   ( Teak)

2. Gmelina arborea                                   ( Gamari)

3. Melia composita                                   ( Ghora neem)

4. Terminalia myriocarpa                         ( Hollock)

5. Artocarpus chaplasa                             ( Sam)

6. Chickrassia tabularis                            ( Bogipoma)

7. Duabanga sonneritoides                      ( Khokan)

8. Anthocephalus Cadamba                     (Kadam)

9. Albizia procera                                        (Koroi)

10. Michelia champaca                              (Tita chap)

Middle Elevation Zone : 750m-1500m(2500’ 5000’

The species suitable for this zone are :

1.  Gmelina arborea                                      (Gamari)

2.  Terminalia myriocarpa                            (Hollock)

3.  Artocarpus chaplasa                                (Sam)

4.  Chickrasia tabularis                                 (Bogipoma)

5.  Pinus petula, P.caribea                            (Pines)

6.  Albizia procera                                          (Koroi)

            7.  Betula alnoides

            8.  Melia composita                                  (Ghora neem)

            9.  Lannea axillaries                                  (Naga neem)

           10. Michelia champaca                            (Tita sopa)

                High Elevation Zone : 1500m-2000m, (5000’ 6666) or up to suitable cultivable limit

            The species suitable for this zone ar

                1.  Pinus spp.                                            (Pine)

                2.  Betula alnoides                                  (Birch)

                3.  Lannea axillaries                               (Naga neem)

                4.  Cedrella                                              (Poma)

                5.  Alnus nepalensis                                (Alder)

                6.  Melia composita                                (Ghora neem)

                7.  Terminalia myriocarpa                       (Hollock)

                8.  Artocarpus chaplasa                          (Sam)


                                    COMMODITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY


Seeds should be collected from healthy, mature, and vigorously growing trees. Different Trees mature and produce seed at different seasons of the year; hence, it is good to know the fruiting and ripening seasons of different Trees to enable collection of seeds   in good time. 

Tectona grandis (Teak)                ripens in November to January

Gmelina arborea (Gamari)                                June to August

Melia composita (Ghora neem)                        November to January

Termimalia myriocarpa (Holloc                         November to January

Artocarpus chaplasa                                          July to September

Lannea axillaries (Naga neem)                         November to January

Betula alnoides                                                   November to January

Pinus sp   (Pine)                                                 November to January

Cedrella                                                              November to December

Albizzia procera (Koroi)                                    November to January

Anthocephalus cadamba (Kadam)                  July to September

Duabanga sonnerritoides (Khokan)                December to March

Mechelia champaca (Alder)                             November to January

Alnus nepalensis                                               November to January


                The seeds should be completely dry if they are to be stored for more than a few weeks. If the seeds are not dry, they will ‘respire’ actively in their bags or basket containers and would generate enough heat to destroy the delicate embryo in each seeds.


                   TREE AND GROW RICH DAY AND NIGHT 


Some seeds have hard seed cover for which it becomes difficult for water to seep into the embryo quickly. If water does not seep into the embryo, the seeds will not germinate. Therefore, seeds with such hard coats like Teak/Gamari/Ghora neem/Naga neem/ etc. may be soaked in water till signs of sprouting are detected in the seeds. Different seeds will need different periods of soaking and with little practice, the correct amount of time for proper soaking can be found out. To find out whether the seed are fertile or not, a small quantity may be thrown into burning charcoal (without flames) and fertile ones will sputter or explode which will indicate fertile seeds.


                        EVEN SMALL TREES FETCHES MONEY


 Location : It is very necessary to locate the nursery near the plantation site. The nursery should be located as far as possible in a flatland, near water source. Try to locate the Nursery on the Northern, Western aspects of a Hill slope; try to avoid Southern Aspects on hill slope because of too much sunshine and heat. The nursery beds must not be allowed to become dry after the seeds are sown. In the hotter Plain sector of Nagaland, seed can be germinated even during the winter months, in such a case the nursery beds may have to be watered. The nursery beds should be well drained, there should be no stagnancy of water.

Soil Working : The nursery site should be clear felled of all vegetation if the Nursery is a new one. The jungle clearance may be done during winter to early Spring season preferably before Weeds ripen their fruits so that weeds may be decreased in the Nursery beds, it burns of the seeds the Weeds and other undesirable plants.

It is desirable to plough or hoe the soil in the winter and allow it to weather for some time. The Nursery beds may be raised if the area is plain to ensure good drainage, in hill sides it may be a little sunken to conserve moisture though during very heavy rain there is possibility of it getting flooded if drainage is not made

Nursery bed size : The ploughed soil can be organized into beds of 1 metre wide, 15 cms high, 10 metres long, or as long as the topography would allow. The soil in the nursery should be worked into a compact, smooth, and fine textured consistency. If the nursery in flatland it should be separated by a pathway of 30 cms, so that the beds can be weeded by standing on the pathway.

Seed sowing : The seeds may be sown evenly spread over the beds, and a thin layer of fine soil is spread evenly over the seeds. This type of sowing may be done very small sized seeds of Hollock, Betula, Alder, Cedrella, Bogipoma etc.  For bigger sized seeds, a small straight furrows across the length of the bed may be made in the beds with a light dibble or a wooden stick and the seeds sown in the furrows and covered up with soil.

How deep must the seeds be sown? :  The Thumb Rule is to bury the seeds at the depth of the seeds’ diameter.

Moisture/Temperature of the Beds : Moisture and temperature of the soil in the Nursery beds are very important factors for germination of the seeds. To achieve this, the beds may be covered with transparent polythene sheets with it’s ends weighed down by small stones or clods of soil. This will prevent moisture loss through evaporation and increase the temperature of the nursery beds, though in practice this is easier said than done. It is more practical to expose the beds to the Suns to water the beds to maintain the correct moisture level in the nursery beds.

Time of Sowing :  It is not easy to store seeds in bulk for planting in March-April, the best size of the seedling is about thumb or toe sized. To achieve this size the seeds may be sown in February-June, but most of the trees have not yet produced their seeds then and hence the seeds must collected the previous year. Thus to have optimum planting ,materials, the nursery should and must be sown one and half year before the year of plantation.

The best time of Sowing :  The best time to sow the seeds is just after a shower. Normally in Nagaland, every month experiences at least one rain, and seeds sown in the nursery just after a rain in the month give very good result. It is therefore very important for a Tree Planter to have a very intimate knowledge of the weather of the locality. Some villagers say that seeds sown during the full moon is very successful.

Some species like Gomari produces ripe fruits in June-July and if immediately sown after the ripe fruits fall to the ground, they may be ready for planting in the next March-April, usually in the markedly seasonal hill areas of Nagaland, it takes more than one year to produce the planting materials.

Fertility of the nursery :  For proper growth of the seedling a fertile soil is desirable, but when soil in the nursery is more fertile than the plantation site, the plants do not fare very well initially in the first year of the plantation but how successfully the plants have grown in the first year determines the success and failure of the Plantation. Therefore, raising of seedlings from normally fertile soil would be best suited in the field condition. In Nagaland, normally it is not necessary to add manure to a new nursery to ass manure to a nursery except for the nurseries which have been used for several years.

Weeding in the Nursery :  Nursery cannot be weeded when the tree seedlings have not yet established their root system properly. If weeding is done, at this time the seedling would be uprooted. This is the reason why at the time of preparing nursery, the plant debris should be burnt thoroughly before original weed plants are burnt. Nursery can be weeded  only when the root system of the seedlings have established properly. Leaves of the mature seedlings individuals may be plucked off to distribute sunlight to other smaller seedlings, so that all seedlings attain equal size.

Quantity of seeds in a Nursery Bed :  Greater the number of seeds planted in a bed, smaller will be the size of the seedling at the time of planting. To get quality sized seedling (thumb size), the seed may be sown broadcast in the Nursery bed and then when they are few leaves old, some may be pricking out so that the remaining may be spaced at about 3-4 cms apart. The pricked out seedling may be planted in other prepare

6.        Preparation on Seedling for Plantation:   

In case of plantation of a limited area like in a household garden where only a     few seedlings or at the most a few hundreds are required; seedlings may be prepared in polythene bags. If seedlings are to be raised in polythene bags, then one has to select the correct size materials.


The first thing  to be done is to collect polythene bags from the market which are available in various sizes. The seedlings grown in polybags will have to the transplanted at the end of the year, this would mean that a very big bag is not needed; only a 10 cms diameter would be suffice for raising one-year old seedlings. If you want to prepare bigger size seedling, you may select bigger polythene bags. 

During the dry season, dry soil may be prepared into fine textured consistency, this may be filled into the polybags and compacted by holding the fully filled bag and dropping it to the ground from 30 cm above the ground without letting the soil spill out. When the soil settles at a level less than the mouth of the bag, more soil may be added to make the soil almost filling the bag fully. It may be mixed with manure if the soil is not fertile. Normally, soil that has been lying fallow for several years need no chemical fertilizers. Organic manure can be used if required. Seed are sown directly into the bags during the sowing season i.e February-June

The sown polybags should be preferably kept in shade and the soil not allowed to become dry. The drawback of this method is that when germination do not take place it is detected only after a period of time, then seed has to be sown again into the polybags but the time lost cannot be recovered. To avoid this drawback, the seeds can be sown broadcast in a prepared nursery bed and watered regularly. Watering of minute seeds (Hollock, Alder, Betula, Khokon, Kadam, even Cedrellas) should be not done by splashing water with ordinary water can because the water drops are liable to splash the minute seeds preventing the seeds the time to strike root. Water should be sprayed in the beds preferably till root system of the seedlings are well developed. Beds should be moist rather than wet. If beds are kept constantly moist, it may not require sheds. The seeds are allowed to germinate and grow up to about 3 cms to 5 cms and then pricked out and planted in the polybags and grown till it is fit for plantation in the field. Normally, however, the plants are allowed to grow in the nursery beds till the planting season when they may be uprooted and root-shoot stump prepared out of them.

        7.Root-shoot Stump Preparation :    

The seedlings raised in the polybags are costly and difficult to transport; transporting thousands of seedlings from nursery to plantation sites several Kms away in mountainous terrain on head load is not an easy task.

Therefore, instead of seedling, planting material known as Root shoot stump is prepared. This consists of a seedling whose root has been cut off at about 15 cms and the stem cut off at about 3 cms above the ground level. 

A 1(one) year old seedling is dug out or pulled out of the ground by watering the soil thoroughly. If the soil is deep and soft, the seedlings can be pulled out without injury to the seedling; but if the seedlings have deep roots and the soil hard, such pulling can injure and damage the seedlings and effect the quality of the planting material. See that the seedling is taken out without injury.

It is better to dug out the seedlings and prepare the root shoot stumps. The root-shoot stump is prepared during February-March a few days before the planting. If they are stored in cool shed, they can be kept even for weeks. If stored in wet, hot and dark place, tender shoots may grow from the stump and may get crushed at the time of handling and spoil them.

Seedlings are dug out, the stem portion beyond 3 cm (above the ground) is cut off in a slanting manner to differentiate it from the root with a sharp Dao without smashing the bark of the seedling. Similarly, the root portion beyond 15 cm is cut off. The rootlets are trimmed without injuring the main tap root.


                                          AN INDUSTRY

        8. Trees cannot grow without sunshine, hence the area must be clear felled of all vegetation. This operation is done during the winter. The plant materials become dry in about a month and by January the area is burned completely of the plant. This is accomplished by just one burning but by collecting the partially burned materials and repeatedly burning them. But even after removal of all green vegetation over ground, the roots and the underground portions of the plants remain alive and within a few weeks of spring rains, the whole area may be completely covered with fresh and new growths from the underground stumps of the old plants. But at the time of sowing the agri-crops, the underground rhizomes and tubers of most of the weeds and climbers are removed. This is one factor why the Trees planted in the jhum cultivation do very well. The shrub and climber are removed when the jhum cultivators do the traditional cleaning of their fields. Thus, the tree seedlings are greatly benefited by these jhum cultivation practices. Even in the second year, it is much easier to clean the area because the weed growth in the area are much decreased due to their complete removal more than once during the previous first year. Thus, it has been found that the tree growth is better in the jhum cultivation. Tree cultivation becomes costly and prohibitive for the common villagers unless it is taken up together with Jhum cultivation. Another important factor of the suitability of jhum cultivation for tree cultivation is the customary grazing practice which allows free grazing of areas not under jhum cultivation; so even if an area is planted with tree species, unless the area is also planted up with agricultural crops, none can prohibit traditional grazing in the area. If an area is planted only with the tree alone, the area has to be strongly fenced up to protect the trees from being grazed by cattle which is not an easy task in a jungle area. Therefore, tree planting along with Jhuming ensures the most effective control of grazing.


9.  Spacing of Trees in Jhum Plantation

The soil of an area has a specific fertility and no area can support an indefinite number of vegetation than it’s fertility can allow. So under this specific fertility condition of soil, less the number of trees an area supports; greater is the food available to the trees resulting in faster growth of the trees. The value of tree is dependent on the size of sawn timber obtainable from the tree, and not much on it’s number. It is better to grow less number of trees in the unit areas, then to have lot of small trees.   

It is more economic to grow less number of trees to obtain timber of maximum size than to produce many small size from a unit area. It is thus, important to plant only the correct number of trees per hectare. The spacing would determine the number of plants per hectare. This would vary from place to place and for other practical reasons of jhum cultivation. If the tree spacing is very close, it will also interfere with the growth of the food crop.

An important point to consider is that the denser the trees the lesser the weed growth. Weed poses a major problem to plantation in Nagaland and therefore there is tendency on the part of the tree farmers to plant a little more than the required number. Another reason for close spacing is for security against casualty, as replacement is a difficult task in Nagaland condition. Therefore, the planters decide to adopt closer spacing than the prescribed norms, but this has the danger of producing whippy trees thus greatly reducing the value of the plantations.

Plantation more than 833 trees per hectare is not advisable for timber purpose. Initially, trees have a fast height increment period and once the period is reached, them fast diameter increment period starts. If the trees are congested, diameter increment would suffer and therefore, as soon as the trees have attained their height period, they must be thinned. The size of trees of the thinned material will have a direct bearing on it’s value. Thousands will be thinned from a few hectares and if these do not fetch good price, it would be a great mismanagement of the tree plantation and the resources. If the thinned material has an average diameter of less than 10 cm., it would not fetch a good price.

Therefore, the tree should be planted at such spacing that they attain their height growth when the average tree has a diameter of about 10 cm in about 4-6 years. Thus various factors taken into considerations, the best spacing are:

5 metres x 4 metres = 500 trees per hectare

4 metres x 4 metres = 625 trees per hectare

4 metres x 3 metres = 833 trees per hectare

5 metres x 4 metres Spacing :    

            The plants may be planted in lines of 5 meters apart so that food crops may be raised in the inter space. In lines, the trees may be planted at every 4 metres. This will give about 5oo trees per hectare.

4 metres x 4 metres:

            The plants may be planted in 4 metres apart in lines and row. This will give 625 trees per hectare.

4 metres x 3 metres

             The plants are spaced at 3 metres apart in lines of 4 metres apart. This will give 833 trees per hectare.

            Under Nagaland conditions of plant growth, species like Teak, Gamari, Neem, Kadam, Khokan, Sam, attains it’s normal height growth in about 3 to 4 years. As soon as they attain the normal height growth, they begin to attain their diameter growth rapidly. But if the trees are congested around 4 years of age, their diameter increment will suffer resulting in price fall. And plantation being an investment, every thing possible should be done to get maximum returns.

            Those who want to grow other crops together with the tree species may adopt the 5 metres x 4 metres spacing or even 6 metres x 4 metres spacing. But if agri-crops are not grown then lower spacing may be adopted.

            The first thinning of the plantation will fetch some income from the 5th year or so of the plantation. In such a plantation, a spacing of 4 metres x 3 metres or 4 metres x 4 metres may be adopted as by then, the trees may attain about 30 cm girth or 10 cm diameter. These thinned materials can be sold as Bally post.

Preparation of Plantation Sites: 

            The plantation sites may be prepared in the same way as one prepares for jhum cultivation. In the cool mountains where winter is a definitely marked feature, the jhum jungle clearance starts in about October but in the lower elevations, the jungle clearance can be done even in February-March. In the mountains, by February, soil preparation for paddy begins and when the site is completely cleaned and burnt of debris; it is ready for sowing of paddy, the root shoot stump should be planted along with it simultaneously. The trees should be planted in lines that may run roughly in the North South direction to get better sunshine.

                           THE BEST LEGACY YOU CAN LEAVE TO FUTURE

                              GENERATION IS TO LEAVE A TREE FARM TO

                                                           YOUR CHILDREN

        10. In the line, at selected spacing point the soil may be worked by dibbling with a small dibble upto a depth more than the length of the stump. When the soil is dibbled soft and deep enough, the root shoot stump is inserted into the soil so that the tip of the stump is about 2-3 cm above the ground level to prevent the stump from getting drowned during heavy and prolonged rain. If the area is plain, the soil may be gathered into a small hump above the general level of the ground so that the planting spot will not have any stagnant water.        

After the stump is planted, the soil around the stump may be pressed firmly so that there are no air spaces around the stump in the ground. The stump should be perpendicular to the horizontal level so as to prevent it from growing to a curved stem if planted at an angle. A curved stem will greatly decrease the value of the log in the future. In the slopes the stumps are planted 2-5 cm above the ground to avoid and prevent soil from above the field burying it which may results in decay and death of the stumps.

11. Species Mixture in the Plantation:

A number of species is given in the paragraph on Elevation zones, but it has not been mentioned how they should be mixed in any plantation. The species mentioned are grouped into two (two) classes in order to facilitate scientific management. All the species mentioned are not only fast growing but are also able to give good returns to the grower. Some are very fast growing, hence they are mixed a Fast growing species to a very fast growing. This is done because very fast growing species are less valuable than fast growing species but they grow big enough to be harvested around 5 to 8 years of planting when the plantation must be thinned to facilitate the quick diameter growth of the costly fast growing species. Thus, when the very fast growing species are removed, the plantation will give sufficient space to the remaining more valuable economic species. If thinning is not done when the plants are about 7 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) diameter and they become crowded, then the plants will become whippy and become like Bamboo with very little value as a timber.

The Fast growing species (FG) are :

            Teak, Gamari, Sam, Hollock, Bogipoma, Pine, Cedrella, Betula, Tita sopa, Koroi.

The Very Fast growing (VFG) species are :

            Ghora neem, Naga neem, khokon, and other being identified.


Species Mixture Plan :  

            Plant spacing

Ist Line        1            2            3            4            5         6

                               VFG        FG        VFG      FG      VFG     FG

2nd Line      7           8            9            10      11            12

                               VFG       FG      VFG           FG      VFG     FG

3rd Line       13         14       15        16         17         18

                               VFG        FG      VFG     FG      VFG     FG

4th Line        19         20        21       22         23       24

                                VFG        FG     VFG     FG       VFG    FG 

12. Weeding:        

            Because of the good natural conditions for plant growth, weed growth in Nagaland is problematically very fast. On a qualitative scale, the weeds in Nagaland grows almost 52 times faster than the tree species. This is why weeding of plantation is economically not viable. Therefore, this is the reason alone in Nagaland TREE PLANTATION is ideally practicable only with JHUM CULTIVATION. At the time of weeding the paddy, the tree plants are automatically weeded without extra effort and costs.

Therefore, jhum cultivation has great potentials on Nagaland.

If tree plantation is done by all jhum cultivators; in one generation, Nagaland can become a timber producing State.. It is not possible for a few government servants of the State Forest Department with meager budget to plant enough trees for the State. Every cultivator in Nagaland can plant at least a few trees every year together with his Jhum cultivation and planting of 50 trees by each cultivator and nurturing them is not difficult as it is planted along with the jhum crops and would/does not increase his work.

            Tree plantation is the only enterprise which will uplift the economy of every Naga villagers, thereby ensuring prosperity.