ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Thursday, December 9, 2021

Jhuming and Deforestation

 

The forests of Manipur have been classified by different authors based on various criteria. Based on the classification of the vegetation types and observation made, the forest of Manipur can be classified into the following types.


1.Tropical moist and deciduous forest.
2.Tropical evergreen and semi evergreen forest.
3.Sub tropical mixed forest.Sub tropical pine forest.
4.Sub tropical and temperate grasslands.
5.Temperate forest andSub alpine vegetation. 

 Stages of Jhuming
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Destruction of forest for firewood
Jhum cultivation
Fired in the forest

Both increase in Jhuming area and decrease in the Jhum cycle are destroying the forests and ultimately it affects the rich biodiversity. Making it on the verge of becoming totally degraded due to loss of top soil, fertility and vegetative cover, ultimately tuning into a barren wasteland. It is reported that, the total forest area covers about 67.7% of the geographical area of Manipur In 1990 it was 17,679 sq.km i.e about 79% of the total geographical area of the state. While it was 17,558sq.km in 1995, the total geographical area dropped to 17,418 sq.km in 1997. Out of this only 22.11% represent the dense or true forest and the rest are designated as ‘scrub’ or grassland dominated areas which in the true sense can hardly be regarded as forest. (source: FSI).  The various reasons for the fast removal of the forests in the state are ‘burning’ of the forest (99%) due to Shifting cultivation(Jhuming practice) and hunting of animals whereas felling of trees by the local people for fuel wood hardly constitute 1% of forest removal in the state.In Manipur vast areas of forests are under shifting cultivation.  More than 83 thousand families are reportedly practicing the shifting cultivation or jhuming. The total area under jhum cultivation has been 1,832 sq.km. in 1976 which gradually increased to 3,600 sq.km. in 1983 and 4,905 sq.km. by 1990 according to reports of FSI and NRSA. On an average, the jhum are increased from 46.49% (1991-92) to 69 % (2001-02) in the state. The main districts which are largely affected by jhum are Senapati, Churachandpur, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel Districts. Tamenglong district presents dismal picture with 98.6% being accounted for by the Jhum area, whereas, in Ukhrul District it is estimated about 83.86% as Jhum area.

In the southern part of Ukhrul District, that is Kasom Khullen Sub-Division the area of land under Jhumming cultivation in increasing as the population increases and there is no alternative means to replace it. The study of the condition of Khamlang village, situated in the heart of the sub-division shows the increases of the cultivation but the decrease in the product. In 1970s the paddy produced per hectare was seventy to eighty tins(a unit of measure) but during 2000s the harvest is only fifty to sixty tins at the same field. The cycle of jhumming cultivation is also decreasing compared with that of olden days. In the olden days the cycle was twelve to thirteen years but now it is only ten to eleven years in a cycle. The decrease of yield may be due to shortening of its cycle. With the decrease in yield and increase in population, jhumming cultivation covers more and more areas year by year. In the year 2006 the area under jhumming cultivation by Khamlang village with fifty-three families depending on jhum for their livelihood is 160 acres for growing rice and  50 acres for growing vegetable and other crops. In the average each family used 4 hectares of land for cultivation. Taking this data of Khamlang village as the average for the whole sub-division, there are more than 1500 families depending on jhumming cultivation for their  livelihood and the total area covered under jhumming cultivation is calculated to be about 6000 acres per year.  

Shifting cultivation or jhum cultivation is an agricultural practice prevalent mainly in the North Eastern States of India where the forest land use is converted into agriculture land use temporarily and this activity is repeated after certain years. The system essentially consists of felling of the forest on a hill slope in November-December and burning of the debris in April-May before dibbling the seeds into the cleared soil. Sowing in June is followed by weeding in July-August & September-October crops are generally harvested.

In the North Eastern region, over 64% of the geographical area comprises of hills. High precipitation coupled with mountainous terrains gifted this region a habitat of a large number of widely spread forests tree species. According to FSI (2003), the total forest cover of Manipur is 17,219 sq. km.  whereas it was 17,418 sq. km. according to FSI (1997), therefore the net loss amounts to 199 sq. km. in the last 5-6 years. The practice of shifting cultivation or jhum cultivation in the North Eastern States of India has affected forest cover to the extent of 5,476 sq. km FSI (2003). Maximum effect is observed in Nagaland and Manipur happens to be in the third place. However, due to the rapid regeneration of abandoned shifting cultivation areas where vegetation comes up quickly, the net change in the forest cover of the state between the 2001 and 2003 assessment shows a net increase of 293 sq. km.

Increase in Jhum Area, the intensity of Jhuming & decrease in the Jhum cycle due to high population growth, are destroying the forests and the rich biodiversity, making it on the verge of becoming totally degraded due to loss of top soil, fertility and vegetative cover ultimately turning into a barren wasteland. It is reported that, the total forest area covers about 67.7% of the geographical area of Manipur In 1990 it was 17,679 sq. km i.e about 79% of the total geographical area of the state. While it was 17,558sq.km in 1995, the total geographical area dropped to 17,418 sq. km in 1997. Out of this only 22.11% represent the dense or true forest and the rest are designated as ‘scrub’ or grassland dominated areas which in the true sense can hardly be regarded as forest. (source: FSI).  The various reasons for the fast removal of the forests in the state are ‘burning’ of the forest(99%) due to Shifting cultivation (Jhuming practice) and hunting of animals whereas felling of trees by the local people for fuel wood hardly constitute 1% of forest removal in the geographical area of Manipur In 1990 it was 17,679 sq.km i.e about 79% of the total geographical area of the state. While it was 17,558sq.km in 1995, the total geographical area dropped to 17,418 sq.km in 1997. Out of this only 22.11% represent the dense or true forest and the rest are designated as ‘scrub’ or grassland dominated areas which in the true sense can hardly be regarded as forest. (source: FSI).  The various reasons for the fast removal of the forests in the state are ‘burning’ of the forest(99%) due to Shifting cultivation (Jhuming practice) and hunting of animals whereas felling of trees by the local people for fuel wood hardly constitute 1% of forest removal in the State. In Manipur vast areas of forests are under shifting cultivation. More than 83 thousand families are reportedly practicing the shifting cultivation or Jhuming. The total area under Jhum cultivation has been 1,832 sq.km. in 1976 which gradually increased to 3,600 sq.km. in 1983 and 4,905 sq.km. by 1990 according to reports of FSI and NRSA. The main districts which are largely affected by Jhum are Senapati, Churachanpur, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel Districts.

Related Information
Arrow Impact
Arrow Area under forest
Arrow Category of forest
Arrow Land use pattern