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Abundance of the Commons: Reviving community forests in Uttarakhand
Satoli, Uttarakhand
By Hasten Ventures
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neutralises KG CO₂

Uttarakhand’s Van Panchayats or Community Forests are an important part of its social fabric. From the days of the Chipko movement, rural communities have protected these commons as an essential part of their rural lives.

Over the past 5 decades due to lack of investment and over extraction, these commons have become heavily degraded, turning barren in many cases. After speaking with members of local communities in many villages, the idea of reviving community forests emerged.

Impact on people, communities
and planet
Prevention of forest fires
Over 70% of Community ‘forests’ in Uttarakhand are pine ‘plantations’, i.e. hectares of land that are invaded by pine trees, not allowing any native forests (like oak forests) to survive. Pine needles are highly inflammable and are the main cause of annual fires. By reforesforesting native trees in the midst of pine plantations, over the years we can reduce the risk of fires in Satoli village.
Prevents Soil Erosion
Pine plantations have shallow roots and no understory (like shrubs and grasses) to hold the soils on slopes. So when it rains heavily, top soil is washed away. This increases the risk of landslides exponentially, leaving the soil unable to regenerate itself. This is why we see recurrent cases of floods and landslides in Uttarakhand. Re-wilding these commons with native trees, shrubs and grasses will hold the soil tight and prevent loss of top soil in the long run.
Recruits local communities
Planting in isolation never works. Forests provide ecosystem services that go beyond our picket fences. It is critical to make reforestation a collaborative enterprise where the key stakeholders are involved in every aspect. Hasten works collaboratively with the local communities and local government, each playing their part. After all planting trees is only 10% of the work, ensuring they remain standing is the rest 90%.
How this solution removes carbon
from the atmosphere!
01 Pre-Plantation
Soil Preparation This step prepares the soil by adding organic compost, water retention materials and mulching materials. All these are organic materials that contain carbon. As they decompose in the soil, they will store carbon and provide nourishment to the trees that will be soon planted on them.
02 Plantation
Forest Creation Planting native species mimicking the natural forests in the region, ie. including trees, shrubs and grasses. This rewilding approach ensures that we don’t confuse planting trees with recreating a forest
03 Post-Plantation
Monitoring and Evaluation Our partner conducts periodic field visits to offer technical support on leading forestry practices, additional assistance where required, as well as monitor the maintenance and management of the trees. This includes periodic measurement of above ground biomass grown, soil carbon and mortality rates.
The amazing developers
behind this solution

Hasten Ventures started out as Alaap in 2017 with its roots in village Satoli, Uttarakhand. While degrading van panchayats offered the opportunity for reforestation, execution was not straightforward because of issues of land ownership, lower incentives for collective action, and limited wherewithal of the forest department.

Hasten is taking on these challenges and is doing some extraordinary work in Satoli village, led by Sheeba, one of the co-founders, who spent 5 years working with the rural communities. Since 2019, they’ve planted close to 10,000 trees. By showcasing the revival of one forest, the vision is to prove the potential of these community forests in addressing climate change, and significantly improving the quality of life of local communities.

Hasten Ventures is building a viable case for large scale native reforestation in the Himalayas.

Any Queries?
Siddhanth Jayaram, Climes
Sheeba Sen, Hasten Ventures