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Social Forestry is widely defined as the afforestation activity with the involvement of the society and the people. In the Indian context, it also depicts greening initiatives outside the traditional forest areas. Thus, Social Forestry by and large, is the growing of trees and forests by the people and for the people. Accordingly, this inculcates a dimension of livelihood generation and catering to the peoples’ day to day requirements, in return for their participation in the growing and conserving of such green patches.
As the Sundarbans has been identified as one of the most vulnerable zones in the context of the looming climate change threat, it puts into risk the vast impoverished populace living in the Sundarbans from submergence, displacement or annihilation. One of the scientific modes to thwart this threat is by going in for massive plantation of trees to facilitate atmospheric sequestration of carbon that has resulted from the unabated Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. The plantation of trees not only help in the carbon sequestration to mitigate the climate change threat or the apprehended rise in the sea level, it can also directly impact upon the local communities by virtue of stabilizing their land, protection of their embankments, ameliorate cyclonic risks through shelter belts, as also provide them with fuel – wood, food, fodder, non – timber forest produce (NTFPs), etc.
Accordingly, the Sundarban Development Board, through its Social Forestry Division, undertakes greening activities that not only involves the society but also addresses to its needs in a more tangible manner, apart from providing the wider environmental amelioration benefits. As part of this initiative, the Sundarban Development board raises mangrove plantations on the river banks, strip plantation along the roadside and canal banks and Casuarina (Jhow) plantation as Shelterbelts along the sea faces. All these activities are undertaken in the localities outside the traditional forest areas and are executed on a participatory mode involving the local communities.