which state that,
the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the
environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife and to
protect and improve the natural environment including forests,
lakes and rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for the
living creatures. In Resolution No. 3-1/86-FP dated the 7th
December 1988, the Government of India, Ministry of
environment and Forests, enunciated National Forest Policy to
be followed in the management of state forests in the country.
However, over the years, the environment, forests and land in
the state of Sikkim have come under serious pressure due to
the fact that more than 80% of the land resources of the state
are under the management of the Department of Forests,
Environment & Wildlife. Due to the increase in human
population and cattle population and increase in development
activities in the state, the pressure on the environment,
forest and land is increasing at a very fast pace. Due to
increase in human population, there is increase in demand for
land for house construction, agriculture, road construction,
hydel projects and other developmental activities. There is
also increase in demand for fuel wood for cooking and heating
purposes. Due to increase in livestock population, grazing in
the forest areas has been increasing. All the above-mentioned
activities are likely to create degradation of forests and
environment. To overcome the situation and to increase the
participation of the local people in the conservation and
management of forest resources of the state and to maintain
the ecology of the state without hampering developmental
activities, it has become imperative to review the situation
and to evolve, for the future, a strategy of environment of
natural environment. There has been tremendous increase in the
air pollution in the urban areas due to the increase in the
number of vehicles over the years. Due to hilly terrain, land
available for non-forestry purposes is very limited. So there
is great demand on this land from various sectors. Land use
planning and land management is very important for optimal
utilization of land resources in the state. It has thus become
necessary to formulate a “State Policy of Environment, Forests
and Land Use”.
2. BASIC OBJECTIVES
The basic objectives that should govern State Forest Policy of
Environment, Forest and Land Use are as under:
Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation
and where necessary, restoration of ecological balance which
has been distributed due to various developmental activities,
faulty land practices and degradation of forest resources.
Conserving the natural heritage of the state through
conservation and preservation of natural forests of the state
with vast variety of flora and fauna, which represents the
remarkable diversity, and genetic resources of the state.
Checking the soil erosion and denudation of the hill slopes in
the catchment areas of rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs
in the interest of soil and water conservation for mitigating
landslides, floods, and droughts and for the retardation of
siltation of reservoirs.
Increasing substantially the forest / tree cover in the state
through massive afforestation, social forestry programmes
especially on all denuded and degraded slopes, regeneration of
natural forests through inducing natural regeneration.
Increasing the productivity of land through improved
management practices to meet the needs of increasing human
population in respect of food, timber, fuel wood and fodder
for the livestock.
Preventing the diversion of forestlands and good agriculture
lands for other purposes.
Efficient management of land under urban and village
settlement to prevent landslides, flooding and damage to
roads, bridges, buildings, etc.
Efficient management of land under agriculture by controlling
the use of pesticides and insecticides to prevent pollution of
soil and water resources.
Preventing pollution of air especially in urban area by
prescribing emission levels for vehicles / industries and
other air polluting industries.
Encouraging efficient utilization of forest produce and
maximizing substitution of wood.
Encouraging people to use alternative sources of energy for
heating and cooking purposes.
3. ESSENTIALS OF ENVIRONMENT, FOREST AND LAND MANAGEMENT
Existing forests and forestlands shall be protected and their
productivity improved. Forest and vegetation cover should be
increased and improved on hill slopes, in catchment areas of
rivers, lakes and reservoirs to check the siltation of these
Diversion of good and productive forestlands and agricultural
lands for other purposes should be discouraged. The
productivity of existing forest and agricultural lands should
be increased through improved management practices and
application of appropriate technology.
For the conservation of total biological diversity, the area
under national parks sanctuaries and biosphere reserve should
be fully protected and not diverted for any other purposes.
Forest tree cover should be increased in the Khasmal and
Gorucharan areas through massive afforestation programmes
through involvement of local people in the management of these
Since fuel wood continues to be the main source of energy in
the rural areas, the programmes of afforestation should be
intensified with special emphasis on increasing the production
of fuel wood and tree fodder to meet the requirement of the
To decrease the pressure on the natural forests, the rural
people will be encouraged to undertake plantation of fuel wood
and fodder trees on lands which are uneconomical for
agricultural and horticultural practices.
Non-timber forest produce provides sustenance to the tribal
population residing in and around the forest area. Such forest
produce should be protected, improved and its production
increased to generate employment and improve the economic
conditions of the local tribals.
To improve the ecology of agricultural lands, the lands, which
are not fit for agriculture due to high degree of slopes,
should be used for horticulture crops.
Diversification in land use by introduction of crops like
pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fodder in the cropping
pattern should be encouraged. Double and multiple cropping
wherever possible should be encouraged. For diversifying
production, mixed farming should be encouraged including
dovetailing cultivation with subsidiary occupations like
raising livestock and poultry, fish, silk rearing and bee
keeping, which will ensure year round of resources and
employment potential for the farming family and the livestock.
Compensatory afforestation and alternate production programmes
should be undertaken to ensure that the productivity of
agricultural and forest land lost or damaged through
unavoidable diversion, is restored.
Movement of people from rural areas to the urban areas is to
be discouraged so that slums are not developed in the urban
areas by unauthorized encroachment on the public land and
creating unhygienic conditions in the urban areas. Sanitation
should be an integral part of the town planning. Safe drainage
of domestic and rainwater is the prerequisite of any town
Arrangement should be made for disposal of solid waste
material and garbage, both non-degradable and biodegradable,
so as to check choking of drainage systems and silting of
rivers and streams.
Areas which are feeding the water sources through surface
runoff / seepage into the ground should be completely
protected from all biotic interference for checking pollution
and contamination of drinking water particularly in case of
heavy domestic water consumption centres.
Diversion of ecologically fragile and environmentally
sensitive areas for other alternative uses should be avoided
and wherever such diversion cannot be avoided, environmental
safeguards should be the integral part of the project to limit
the damage to the environment to the minimum. Environmental
impact assessment of all development projects above a certain
size should be made compulsory. Treatment of the area damaged
due to execution of project / extension of old one, should be
the responsibility of the project authority.
Protection should be the integral part of all afforestation
projects. Catchment treatment plan should be imperative for
all hydel power, irrigation and water supply projects.
The national goal is to have a minimum of two-third of area
under forest or tree cover in order to prevent soil erosion
and land degradation and to ensure the stability of fragile
ecosystem. Although about 84% land resources are under the
management of the forest department, yet the area under tree
cover is only about 44%. Further the density of the tree cover
is very low in many areas. The state would strive to increase
the area under tree cover further and also improve the density
of the existing tree cover.
A massive need-based and time-bound programme of afforestation
and tree planting will be launched with main emphasis on
production of fuel wood and fodder on degraded and denuded
lands, both forest and non-forest. Afforestation being a time
specific activity, the government will ensure technical,
administrative and financial approval well in advance for all
afforestation projects to ensure the success of these
programmes and improve the quality of works.
An urban forestry programme is a necessity to improve the
environment in the urban areas of all the districts through
planting of ornamental trees and bushes. Such a programme will
increase the scenic beauty of the towns as well as check soil
erosion and landslides in these areas.
Khasmal and Gorucharan lands should be taken up for the
development of tree crops and fodder resources. A “Joint
Forestry Management Programme” will be launched to improve the
condition of the forest crop on such lands. The state
government will consider providing assistance for undertaking
planting on such lands and the local Village Forest Protection
Committee will be responsible for the protection and
maintenance of the tree plantation. The revenue saving
mechanism between the state and the local villagers will be
considered without transferring ownership rights, to undertake
block plantation of trees on such lands for production of
timber, fuel wood and fodder. Appropriate regulations will be
made to govern the felling of trees on private holdings.
The productivity of the area under agriculture and
horticulture should be increased so that total agricultural
and horticultural production is increased. Good agricultural
land should not be diverted for non-agricultural purposes as
far as possible. To maintain the fertility of the land,
rotational cropping pattern should be adopted and
bio-fertilizers should be added to the soil.
Modern town planning techniques are adopted in urban
settlements. Constructions of buildings and houses not are
allowed in landslide prone areas to avoid loss of life and
Laws should be notified in such a way that the arrangement for
proper drainage of the buildings, roads, parking places,
commercial complexes, factories, etc. from the site to the
natural water way should be the responsibility of the owners /
There are many endangered species in Sikkim, which require ex
situ conservation and propagation in addition to in situ
conservation in their respective habitats. Efforts will be
made to propagate these species by establishing seed orchards
and germ-plasm gardens.
To save forests, environment and biodiversity from biotic
interference (illicit tree felling, poaching, smuggling of
forest produce, grazing, fire, etc.) infrastructure
development for protection of forests, is the need of the
time. The government will invest 10 % of the total outlay for
forestry sector for development of infrastructure for forest
protection, which includes procurement of patrolling vehicles,
firearms, telecommunication development and improvement and
construction of check posts.
5. MANAGEMENT OF ENVIRONMENT, FORESTS AND LAND
Developmental schemes and projects, which are detrimental to
the environment and forest growing on steep slopes, land in
catchment areas of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and
ecologically and geologically fragile areas should be severely
restricted. Further it will be made compulsory for all
development agencies to have in built provisions in their
project cost for providing alternative fuels (kerosene, LPG,
etc.) for their labour force to avoid damage to the forest and
environment around forest areas.
No forest should be worked without the approval of Working
Plan by state government and the competent authority in the
In order to meet the growing needs of timber, fuel wood,
fodder and non-timber forest produce, which the forest
provide, it is necessary to increase productivity of the
existing forest land and enhance the forest cover through
application of scientific and technological inputs. Production
forestry programmes, while aiming at increasing the forest
cover should also be oriented to narrow the gap between supply
and demand of the firewood. However no programmes should be
started which involve clear felling of the natural forests.
Exotic species should not be planted on large scale unless it
is established through trial that they have no adverse impact
on local environment and vegetation.
Soil fertility of the land under cultivation should be
improved by promoting the use of organic manure, biogas and
nitrogen fixing practices. Land along the hill slopes should
be terraced to check the erosion of topsoil and for
conservation of moisture. Production from the rain fed area
should be increased through land water resource management.
Khasmal and Gorucharan lands should be protected from
encroachment. These lands should be developed by planting
fodder and fuel wood trees. Suitable fodder grasses should be
planted to augment the availability of fodder. Grazing should
be allowed only upto the carrying capacity of the lands.
Stall-feeding should be encouraged. Status of these lands
should be regularly monitored to avoid over exploitation of
Special efforts should be made to maintain the ecology of the
inland water bodies like lakes, rivers ad streams. Legislation
should be adopted to prevent pollution of the water bodies.
Water bodies should also be developed for the production of
fish to increase the production of food. Water balance studies
should be undertaken for considering the requirements of
different sectors. Statistics of water resource potential and
competing demands for human consumption, agriculture and
industry should be collected at regular intervals. Impact of
water resource development project for hydropower generation
and irrigation or flood control on the land, ecology and
society as a whole should be evaluated.
Soil conservation and watershed management, for increasing
productivity, checking soil erosion, retarding runoff, helping
moderation of floods, drought and land degradation should be
undertaken. Hill slopes should be protected against landslides
through modern techniques. Water harvesting measures should be
undertaken in the dry areas to increase moisture regime for
increasing productivity of dry lands.
For implementation of urban and rural human settlement
programmes, proper planning should be undertaken beforehand.
More scientific methods, requiring less areas, should be
adopted for disposal of urban waste to avoid damage to lands,
water bodies and environment.
The alignment of the road and transport system should be
planned with minimum use of arable lands and good forest
areas. Construction of roads should have in built provision
for waterways to supplement the natural drainage system,
treatment of landslides prone and fragile areas, compensation
for crop / forest / land property, etc. likely to be damaged /
destroyed and having provision for compensatory afforestation
for grater stability of the slopes.
The industrial units be required to take necessary safeguards
to reduce pollution particularly those affecting the health of
soil / land and water bodies.
The mining programmes should contain detailed plan not only
for mining operations but also for re-use of land after
mining. Land use plan for mining areas should be examined
against the cost involved and the social needs of the
Catchment area treatment plan should be prepared for the major
and medium irrigation and hydel power reservoirs. Watershed
management and soil conservation including afforestation
should precede or at least be taken up simultaneously with the
construction of dams / reservoirs so that their effect is felt
by the time the irrigation / hydel project is completed and
water is impounded in the reservoir.
Steps need to be taken to obtain reliable information on the
extent of area under direct possession of defense
establishments and the extent of areas being required by the
year 2020 to meet the future requirement.
Steps are required to be taken to get the information on the
extent of area under direct possession of Border Roads
Organization for their camps and also the labour camps. The
information is also required to be collected for their future
needs for road constructions by the year 2020.
To check the pollution of air, steps should be undertaken to
fix the emission levels also all types of vehicles. Norms also
need to be fixed for the air polluting industrial units.
Locations of polluting industries near the densely populated
areas should not be allowed.
To generate revenue without damaging the ecology and
environment, eco-tourism will be promoted in protected areas
having natural scenic beauty and places of religious
importance. Eco-tourism will be strictly regulated by making
appropriate rules and regulations. No new area will be opened
without thorough scrutiny and evaluation of the impact on the
environment by the experts. The government will close those
areas for eco-tourism temporarily or permanently, on which
eco-tourism is having adverse impact on environment after
7. RIGHTS AND CONCESSIONS
The rights and concessions if any including grazing should
always remain confined to the carrying capacity of the forest.
The carrying capacity should be enhanced through total banning
of grazing for certain periods, increased investment,
silvicultural research and development of the area. Grazing in
the forests freely should be discouraged and stall-feeding
should be encouraged. Social forestry programme should be
started in Khasmal and Gorucharan areas outside the Reserve
Forest (RF) to increase the availability of fuel wood and
fodder in such areas. Establishment of cattle camps / sheds
within the RF should not be allowed.
The rights and concessions should be related to the assistance
provided by the people, residing in and around the forest, in
protection of the forests from fires and forest offenders.
Demands of the local people for their bonafide use should be
the first charge on the forest.
Wood is in short supply. The long-term solution for bridging
the existing gap between demand and supplies lies in
increasing the productivity of forests. But to relieve the
pressure on the forest for timber, substitution of wood by
alternatives is required to be taken recourse to. In case of
energy required for domestic purposes fuel wood needs to be
substituted with alternative sources like biogas, LPG and
solar energy. Fuel-efficient ‘chulahs’ as a measure of
conservation of fuel wood need to be popularized in rural
areas. Similarly solar cookers and solar water heaters need to
be popularized in the state.
8. DIVERSION OF FOREST LANDS FOR NON-FOREST PURPOSE
Forest land or land covered with trees should not be treated
as source readily available to be utilized for various
developmental projects and schemes, but as a national asset
which is required to be properly safeguarded for providing
sustained benefits to the entire state. Diversion of
forestlands for any non-forestry purpose should not be allowed
except for developmental projects after the most careful
examination and scrutiny by the specialists from the
standpoint of social and environmental costs and benefits.
Construction of dams and reservoirs for hydel power
generation, mining and industrial development, construction of
roads and bridges and any other projects of the state
government / central government or any other public
undertaking of the state government / central government which
are consistent with the needs for conservation of trees and
forest, which involve such diversion, shall provide in their
investment budget, funds for regeneration / compensatory
afforestation and compensation for damage caused to the forest
crop both on government and private lands.
Beneficiaries who are allowed mining and quarrying in forest
land and in the land covered by the trees should be required
to repair, reclaim and re-vegetate the area in accordance with
established forestry practices. No mining lease or licence
should be granted to any party. Private or public without a
proper mine management plan appraised from the environmental
angle and enforced by adequate machinery.
9. WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
Wildlife management plans should be prepared for all national
parks and sanctuaries for taking special care for the needs of
wildlife conservation. It is essential to provide for
‘corridors’ linking the protected area in order to maintain
genetic continuity between artificially separated subsection
of migrant wildlife. Diversion of forestland in national parks
and sanctuaries should not be allowed.
Forest management plan should take special care of needs of
wildlife conservation in areas outsides the protected areas.
10. TRIBAL PEOPLE AND FORESTS
All the remote areas of the state are inhabited by the tribal
people. There is a symbiotic relationship between the tribal
people and the forests. Tribal people and people residing in
and around the forest areas should be involved in the
protection, regeneration and development of forests to provide
them gainful employment.
Tribal co-operatives should be involved in protection,
regeneration and optimum collection of non-wood forest
Provision of alternative sources of energy for domestic
purposes should be made in tribal areas to reduce the pressure
11. DAMAGE TO FOREST FROM ENCROACHMENT, FIRES AND GRAZING
Encroachment on forestland has been on the increase. This
trend has to be arrested and reversed by taking effective
steps. There should be no regularization of existing
The incidence of forest fires is very high especially in the
lower areas in the state. Standing trees, young plantations,
natural regenerations, medicinal herbs and shrubs are
destroyed by the forest fires. Fires cause maximum damage to
the genetic resources and biodiversity. Special precautions
should be taken during the fire seasons to prevent and contain
the fire in the fire prone areas. Sufficient allocation of
funds should be made in ht budget for dealing with the fire.
Culprits who indulge in causing fires to the forest should be
Grazing in forest areas is a major problem in the state.
Grazing in Reserve Forest area should be severely restricted /
banned. Cattle camps / ‘goths’ should not be allowed in the
Reserve Forest areas. Stall-feeding should be encouraged.
Adequate grazing fees should be imposed to discourage the
people from maintaining large herds of non-essential
12. FOREST BASED INDUSTRIES
The private forest based industries should not be allowed near
the forest areas. However, to meet the
Demands of the public the Department of Forests, Environment
and Wildlife should establish saw mills and sale depots for
timber, firewood and charcoal marketing.
Farmers should be encouraged the private forest based
industries should not be allowed near the forest areas.
However, to meet the to grow trees on lands which are not
required by them for agriculture / horticulture. Department of
Forests, Environment and Wildlife may make arrangement to
market the produce through their departmental sale depots.
At village level small cottage industries run by village
co-operatives based on forest produce / wood produced by the
farmers may be allowed after scrutiny of the adequate supply
of wood by farmers residing in the area.
13. JOINT FOREST MANAGEMENT
Forest protection and conservation programmes cannot succeed
without the willing support and active co-operation of the
people. It is essential, therefore, to involve people in the
development and protection of forests. This can be achieved
through formation of Village Forest Protection Committees.
Women should be given due representation in these committees
to make them more effective. In lieu of the services rendered
by these committees, the members of the committees may be
considered for sharing benefits arising from such afforested
and protected areas. Joint forest management can be undertaken
in Khasmal, Gorucharan and degraded forestlands.
Forest and environmental conservation programme cannot succeed
without making the people conscious of value of trees,
wildlife and nature. Farmers should be motivated to undertake
tree plantation of lands not being utilized for agriculture,
to terrace the land along the hill slopes and to plant
agricultural crops by rotation. Short-term extension courses
and lectures should be organized in order to educate farmers
and villagers for this purpose. It is essential that suitable
programmes are propagated through mass media, audio-visual
aids and film shows. Environmental education should be made an
optional subject at school level.
15. FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Forestry is a scientific disciplines as well as a profession.
Academic and professional qualification in forestry should be
kept in view for recruitment to the State Forest Service and
Forest Subordinate Services. Specialized and orientation
courses for developing better management skills by in-service
training should be encouraged. All personnel dealing with
forest and environment should be regularly trained to keep
them upto date with latest technology.
16. FORESTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH
With the recognition of importance of forests for
environmental conservation, energy, fodder and employment,
emphasis must be given to scientific forestry and
environmental research. There is adequate need for
strengthening of research base. Some broad priority areas so
research and development needing special attention is:
a) Increasing the productivity of timber, fuel wood, fodder
and non-timber forest produce per unit area per unit time by
the application of modern scientific methods and techniques.
b) Reforestation of barren / degraded forestlands, wastelands
c) Effective conservation and management of existing natural
d) Research related to social forestry for rural and tribal
e) Research related to re-vegetation of high altitudes, barren
and degraded forestlands.
f) Research related to enhancement of productivity per unit
area per unit time of medicinal plants, herbs and shrubs.
g) Research related to wildlife management and management of
national parks and sanctuaries.
h) Survey of medicinal plants and biodiversity should be
undertaken and status reports should be prepared and updated
17. PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
Government policies in personnel management should aim at
enhancing the professional competence and status of personnel
engaged in management of forests, environment and land.
Qualified and motivated personnel should be given incentive by
way of granting special increments for doing outstanding work.
For removing the stagnation in their services career, the
proposal for in site promotion to next grade in the same post
may be considered after a certain period of service in the
same grade. Seeing the arduous nature of duties, the forestry
/ wildlife staff has to perform in remote and inhospitable
areas, adequate pay scale and promotions to them must be given
to keep their morale high.
18. SURVEY OF ENVIRONMENT, FOREST AND LAND AND DATABASE
There is an urgent need to generate and update database for
natural resources of the state without which correct decision
could not be taken and optimum utilization of natural
resources is not possible. Priority is needed to be accorded
to undertake the survey of forest resources, land use and
biodiversity in the state on scientific lines. For this
purpose, periodic collection, collation and publication of
reliable data on prevalent aspects of environment, forest and
land management need to be improved with recourse to modern
technology and equipment.
Land is a state subject. State Land Use Board should function
as main custodian of data on land use. State Environment and
Pollution Control Board should be constituted to regularly
monitor the environment and pollution.
19. LEGAL SUPPORT, ORGANISATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Appropriate legislation should be undertaken and rules need to
be formulated in order to implement comprehensive policy on
environment, forest and land use effectively. Organizational
restructuring needs to be undertaken periodically. Further,
infrastructure by way of construction of adequate number of
houses and office for the staff at various levels at various
locations need to be developed to implement the policy and
various Acts for conservation of environment and forest
20.FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTRY
The objectives of the Comprehensive Policy cannot be achieved
without the provision of budgetary support and investment of
financial and other resources on a substantial scale. The
government will increase the investment in Forestry sector to
5 % of the total State Plan Outlay for the State. Such
investment is fully justified considering the fact that more
than 84% of the land resources of the State are under direct
management of Department of Forests, Environment & Wildlife
and the forest are very important for maintaining the
environment and supporting essential ecological processes,
life support systems and in preserving genetic diversity.
Forest should not be seen as a source of revenue. They are a
renewable natural resource. They are lungs of civilization and
without protection of forest, environment and land from
degradation; no civilization can survive on the earth. They
are national assets to be protected and improved for the well
being of the people of the country in general and of the State