Forest Department

 Ecology, Forest & Forest Rights

Location:

Kalimpong District is situated in the outer Himalayas, mostly east of the Tista River, west of Ni-chu & Jaldhaka Rivers, south of Sikkim & Bhutan and north of Jalpaiguri District. It lies between 260 51’ and 270 12’N latitude and 88028’ and 880 53’E longitude.

General configuration:

The tract is mostly mountainous, the elevation varying greatly from 91 meters in the plains to 3000 meters near the common boundary of Sikkim and Bhutan. Only a few square kilometers of areas which form a narrow belt on the southern portion of Chel, Neora and Jaldhaka are having flat terrain. The general slopes of which vary considerably from moderate to precipitous. The general trend of the main rivers is from north to south but there are many subsidiary streams with large valleys. The direction of hills is therefore very variable affording every possible aspect.

Geology, Rock and Soil:

The geological formation consists mostly of metamorphic rocks representing all the stages of dynamo thermal metamorphism. There is a thin layer of soil on the hill tops especially along gentle slopes. Besides, along the present river banks there are freshly deposited thin mantles of aluminum, sands and boulders, which form recent terraces.

Divisions

  1. The forests under Kalimpong district mostly fall under the Kalimpong Forest Division of W.B.F.D.C ltd excluding the area under Neora Valley National Park which had been handed over to Wild Life Wing of Forest Directorate. The HQ is at Kalimpong.
  2. A thin stretch of land, mostly less than 3km in width on the west of R. Tista belongs to the district of Kalimpong. The stretch of land that starts from Sweti Jhora in the south and continues upto Riyang Khola in the North for about 6Km falls under Kurseong Forest Division.
  3. Thereafter the stretch of forests falls under Darjeeling Forest Division upto Tistabazar in the North. It is about 9km in length.
  4. The Neora Valley National Park (under Gorumara Wildlife Division) borders Bhutan in the East, Sikkim in the North, Kalimpong Forest Division in the West and district of Jalpaiguri in the South. It ios abode of rare and threatened species like Lesser Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer, Leopard, Golden Cat, Royal Bengal Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Civet, etc.
  5. There is a Kalimpong Soil Conservation Division was created in the year 1964-65 vide G.O. No. 6310-F, dated 9.10.64 for carrying out soil conservation works within Kalimpong District. The HQ is at Kalimpong.

Kalimpong Forest Division-

Administrative Structure: At present an area of 36,435.792 ha. of reserved forests is under the jurisdiction of this Division. There are nine territorial Ranges viz, Kalimpong Range with headquarters at Kalimpong, Pankhasari Range with headquarters at Algarah, Chel Range with headquarters at Chunabhati,  Neora Range with headquarters at Gorubathan,  Noam  Range with headquarters at Manabari , Samsing Range with headquarters at Samsing, Jaldhaka Range with headquarters at Jhalong, Lava Range with headquarters at Lava and Lolegaon  Range with headquarters at  Lolegaon.

These Ranges have the following territorial beats:

Sl No. Range Beat Area (In Ha.)
1 Kalimpong Tashiding,Nazeok,Tarkhola & Kalimpong 7111.73
2 Pankhasari Damsang,Algarah & Dalapchand 2154.684
4 Noam Noam & Ghish 6594.00
5 Neora Gorubathan,Sakam,Dalim & Burikhola 4173.15
6 Samsing Samsing 1174.660
7 Jaldhaka Khumani & Paren 2923.00
8 Lava Lava & Kolbong 2203.008
9 Lolegaon Bokhim,Chumang,Pemling & Lolegaon 3593.00
                                                                       Total 36435.79

Accomodation-

The Eco-tourism Cottages under this Division is well developed. Several Ac/Non-Ac cottages exist throughout this Division at Lava, Kalimpong, Suntalekhola, Lepchajagat, Samsing, Paren, Jaldhaka, Loleygaon, etc. To cater the need of the tourists, renovation works and construction of newer eco friendly cottages at the aforesaid sites are going on. The booking is done online at the website of www.wbfdc.com.

Kalimpong Soil Conservation Division-

Kalimpong Soil Conservation Division was created in the year 1964-65 vide G.O. No. 6310-F, dated 9.10.64 for carrying out soil conservation works within present day district of Kalimpong. Iot has seven Ranges

  1. Relli Catchment
  2. Ghish Catchment
  3. Lish catchment
  4. Kalimpong Soil Conservation
  5. Chel Catchment
  6. Neora Catchment
  7. Jaldhaka Catchment

It has a Central Nursery, Composting Unit, Nature Interpretation Centre, Bio Diversity Park, Store cum lab and Seed Godown.

Neora Valley National Park-

It was established in 1986. It is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Eastern India. It is the land of the elegant red panda in the pristine undisturbed natural habitat with rugged inaccessible hilly terrain and rich diverse flora and fauna making this park an important wilderness zone. It is abode of rare varieties of mammals, reptiles and birds. The flora here is quite unique, too.

The park is spread over 159.89 km². The forest in Neora Valley has such luxurious growth that even sunlight finds it difficult to touch the ground. Much of the park is still inaccessible, making it an adventurous place for the nature lovers/trekkers who can take the challenge to explore the still-unknown terrain in the Kalimpong hills. Virgin natural forests, dense bamboo groves, colourful canopy of Rhododendron trees, lush green valley, meandering rivers and streams with snowcapped mountains in the backdrop form a picturesque landscape.

The park reaches up to an elevation of 10600 ft at Rachela Danda, the highest point of Neora Valley National Park, which borders Sikkim and Bhutan. The Neora River is the major water source for Kalimpong town. The Neora Valley National Park is unique in its natural beauty with the spectacular Kanchenjunga range in the backdrop. The park has an abundance of Sal trees, Ferns and Bamboo groves. During spring and summer, varieties of colorful Rhododendrons bloom in full. There are some 10 different species of rhododendrons found here and some are about 300years old. The pink, white and red flowers are really a feast to the eye. The wild orchids form a canopy in the forest. Yews, Hemlocks and wild Strawberries also form a part of the forest vegetation.

Forest Rights Act-

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed in India on 18 December 2006. It has also been called the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act. The law concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.

Supporters of the Act claim that it will redress the "historical injustice" committed against forest dwellers, while including provisions for making conservation more effective and more transparent. The demand for the law has seen massive national demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people.

A little over one year after it was passed, the Act was notified into force on 31 December 2007. On 1 January 2008, this was followed by the notification of the Rules framed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to supplement the procedural aspects of the Act.

Types of rights

  1. Right to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood by a member or members of a forest dwelling Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers
  2. Community rights such as nistar, by whatever name called, including those used in erstwhile Princely states, Zamindari or such intermediary regimes
  3. Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce( includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin) which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries;
  4. Other community rights of uses of entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing (both settled or transhumant) and traditional seasonal resource access of nomadic or pastoralist communities;
  5. Rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and pre-agriculture communities;
  6. Rights in or over disputed lands under any nomenclature in any State where claims are disputed;
  7. Rights for conversion of Pattas or leases or grants issued by any local council or any State Govt. on forest lands to titles;
  8. Rights of settlement and conversion of all forest villages, old habitation, unsurveyed villages and other villages in forest, whether recorded, notified or not into revenue villages;
  9. Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use;
  10. Rights which are recognised under any State law or laws of any Autonomous Dist. Council or Autonomous Regional Council or which are accepted as rights of tribals under any traditional or customary law of the concerned tribes of any State;
  11. Right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity;
  12. Any other traditional right customarily enjoyed by the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes or other traditional forest dwellers, as the case may be, which are not mentioned in clauses-1 to 11, but excluding the traditional right of hunting or trapping extracting a part of the body of any species of wild animal

Summary:

  • Title rights- i.e. ownership - to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted.
  • Use rights- to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  • Relief and development rights- to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection
  • Forest management rights- to protect forests and wildlife

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility to get rights under the Act is confined to those who "primarily reside in forests" and who depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years as on 13.12.2005.