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Aggressive Teak Plantation On Thanjavur’s Riverbanks For Conservation Also Generating Big Revenue For Govt

Teak plantation is coming up in a big way in the Thanjavur circle of Tamil Nadu. Last year alone, teak saplings were planted on thousands of hectares of land. Besides protecting riverbanks from erosion and encroachment, the mature teak trees generate huge revenue through the auction of valuable timber.
Indian Masterminds Stories

The Tamil Nadu Forest department has taken up teak plantation in a big way in the Thanjavur circle for boosting environment conservation. The Thanjavur circle comprises the districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam. In all three districts, teak saplings been planted on thousands of hectares of land, including hundreds of hectares in Thanjavur district alone.

This is the fifth year of the implementation of the teak tree project. The main objective is to increase the tree cover outside the reserve forest areas of these districts and produce timber resources. The teak trees also protect the riverbanks from encroachment and help to sequester carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change. It is also generating crores of rupees as revenue by providing valuable timber to the public.

Indian Masterminds interacted with 2017-batch IFS officer and former DFO of Thanjavur, Ilayaraja,to know about this initiative. He is currently serving as DFO of Kanyakumari.

IFS officer and former DFO of Thanjavur, Ilayaraja

PROJECT TEAK PLANTATION

In 1980, Tamil Nadu forest department had identified three crops for agro forestry to improve the lives of public.  One of them is teak. For teak, they identified the Kaveri Delta area in all the districts. After research and tests, they found that these areas are ideal for growing teak.

“In Thanjavur alone, we planted 88 thousand trees of teak last year. We only plant on the banks of the Kaveri river and its tributaries. We speak to the concerned public departments and get NOC from them. Then wherever land is available, we just start our work of planting trees. This work will continue for the next 40 years or more. When the trees attain 30 years,they become mature for harvest. So, harvesting and planting can be done at the same time year after year,” Mr. Ilayaraja said.

Teak Trees after harvesting

PROTECTING RIVERBANKS FROM EROSION

Because of the planting of trees on the riverbanks, they are being protected from encroachment and soil erosion. The banks are getting stabilized and this prevents floods in the vicinity. “In addition, the thousands of trees that we are planting will be there for 30 years and more. This will help environment conservation in a big way. As the biomass is increasing, it will reduce the carbon from the atmosphere, thereby limiting climate change also. That is why we are planting 90 thousand to 1 lakh teak plants every year,” the officer said.

MEETING THE HOME DEMAND FOR TIMBER

The present lot of saplings were planted in end of September to October last year and they will be ready for harvesting after 30 years. Many of them have already grown upto six feet now. After harvesting, the trees are sent to the depot where they are classified into lots. Based on the length and girth, the trees are converted into three lots.

https://twitter.com/ILAYARAJAIFS16/status/1480772720514134018?s=20

Mr. Ilayaraja said, “Last year, we generated 2 crores revenue in one month only. So, if you count the whole year, then it will be very high revenue for the government. Timber is needed for construction, for furniture as well as for household interiors and other items. If we cannot supply, then the government will be dependent on import only. So domestically, we are harvesting in such a big way that we are reducing import burden on the government too and saving foreign currency demand also.”

The teak trees that are harvested are sold through public auction in the forest department’s sale depots in Tiruchi and Thanjavur circles. During 2020-21, teak timber valued at ₹14 crore was sold through public auction in these depots.


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