The wild species biodiversity of Mizoram has a very taxonomic range, in proportion to the enormous diversity of ecosystems and geographical conditions, which these species inhabit. This diversity at the species, sub-species and variety level, is a result of evolutionary processes. However, in the last few decades, this diversity has faced increasing erosion. Habitat loss, hunting and over exploitation, introduction of exotic species in river ecosystems, poisoning and other factors including progressive disempowerment of local communities and destabilization of Mizo traditional management systems, have caused this loss. The dimensions of the loss are as yet unclear, as baseline data, research and monitoring are poorly developed in the State. Some elements of the loss, which have remained undetected or severely under-studied, include decline of the sub-species and varieties of a species. This silent erosion is not necessarily due to any anthropogenic factor, but often due to complex and less understood environmental factors. Thus, to arrive for the sound conservation of different varieties of fauna and flora and their habitat in Mizoram, it is imperative to have research from the beginning so as to scientifically classify different species for their sustainable management in future.

 

 Status of Forests

 

           According to Champion and Seth, the forests in Mizoram are classified under three types viz.

(1)       Tropical wet-evergreen forests

(2)       Tropical semi-evergreen forests

(3)       Montane sub-tropical pine forests

 

            The National Remote Sensing of India, Secunderabad (1979) classified the forest of Mizoram into six categories viz.

(1)       Sub-tropical evergreen forest

(2)       Tropical evergreen forest

(3)       Tropical moist deciduous forest

(4)       Bamboo forest

(5)       Quercus forest

(6)       Jhum land — current, old and abandoned

 

            According to the Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Zone, Kolkata (1992) the forest of Mizoram is classified as follows :-

 

(1)       Eastern Himalaya wet temperate forest

(2)       Cachar tropical semi-evergreen forest

(3)       Assam sub-tropical pine forest

(4)       Secondary moist bamboo forest

(5)       Tropical wet evergreen forest

(6)       Montane sub-tropical forest    

 

            A collaborative up-to-date survey work needs to be carried out to consolidate the actual present situation of forests in Mizoram.

 

            Of these types, the most important is tropical wet-evergreen forests, which is rich in valuable evergreen timber species in the top canopy in some places particularly in south and west Mizoram. Timber species in the top canopy are — Dipterocarpus turbinatus, Artocarpus chaplasha, Terminalia myriocarpa, Amoora wallichii, Michelia champaca, Mesua ferrea, etc. Bamboos also occur abundantly in the middle and lower storey in evergreen type and canes are conspicuously present in this type. Important Bamboos are Melocana bambusoides, Dendrocalamus strictus, Bambusa tulda, Dendrocalamus giganteus, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, etc.

 

The common species in the tropical semi-evergreen forests are Michelia champaca, Schima wallichii, Gmelina arborea, Cedrela toona, etc. Bamboos and canes are also abundant. Areas under semi-evergreen forests are central part of Mizoram, north, northwest and western part of the State. This type practically covers the major portion of Mizoram while the eastern fringes of the State bordering Chin Hills of Myanmar are higher in elevation and falls under Montane sub-tropical pine forests wherein the climate is also cooler and annual precipitation decreases.

 

            The common species of sub-tropical pine forests includes Pinus keseya, Quercus spp., Castanopsis spp., Schima wallichii, Rhododendron arboreum, Rhus semialata, etc.

 

            Mizoram has vast natural forest resources but due to age-old practice of shifting cultivation vast area comprising valuable timber trees and other forest resources have been converted into degraded land. In a study under taken by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), it is estimated that during 1987-97, an area of about 0.38 million ha. has been affected by shifting cultivation. Most of the dense forests are now located in difficult areas in small pockets.

 

            The forest cover, based on satellite data of Dec. 1998 is estimated as 18,338 sq. km. representing 86.99 % of State’s total geographic area. The dense forest is 3,786 sq. km. and open forest is 14,552 sq. km. A decrease of 437 sq. km. in forest has been observed in the present assessment compared to the previous one. Dense forest registered a decrease of 526 sq. km. While the open forest increased by 125 sq. km. State of Forest Report 1999 of FSI is given below.

Actual forest cover of Mizoram

18,338 sq. km.

Dense forests (crown density >40%)

3,786 sq. km.

Open forests (crown density >10% & <40%)

14,552 sq. km.

Scrub forests

212 sq. km.

Non-forests

2,531 sq. km.

Decrease in forest cover over 1997 to 1999

437 sq. km.

Notified forests of Mizoram :

 

A. State Owned

Area in sq. km.

 

Innerline Reserved Forests

570.00

Riverine Reserved Forests

1,833.00

Roadside Reserved Forests 

97.20

Scrub forests

212 sq. km.

Other Reserved Forests

 

1,905.00

Total :

4,405.77

 

 

Wildlife Protected Areas :

 

(a) Dampa Tiger Reserve

500.00

(b) Murlen National Park 

150.00

(c) Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary

35.00

(d) Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary

80.00

(e) Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary

50.00

(f) Palak Wildlife Sanctuary

15.50

(g) Thorang Wildlife Sanctuary

50.00

(h) Sazatlang Wildlife Sanctuary

15.00

(i) Pualreng Wildlife Sanctuary 

100.00

Total :

815.00

G. Total :

5,400.00

B. District Council Forests :

1. Lai Autonomous District Council (LADC) :

 

(i) Wildlife Protected Areas

            (a) Ngengpui Wildlife Sanctuary                                               110.00

            (b) Phawngpui National Park                                                     50.00

                                                                        Total :                          160.00

(ii) Reserved Forests :

            (a) Safety Reserve                                                                78.00

            (b) Supply Reserve                                                                45.00

            (c) Protected Reserve                                                            70.00

            (d) Roadside Reserve                                                             27.00

            (e) Station Reserve                                                                44.00

            (f) Revenue Reserve                                                             612.00

                                                                        Total :                       876.00

 

                                                            Total (LADC) i.e. (i) (ii) :  1,036.00

 

2. Mara Autonomous District Council (MADC) :

            (a) Safety Reserve                                                                102.00

            (b) Supply Reserve                                                                115.00

                                                                        Total :                        217.00

 

3. Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) :

            (a) Safety Reserve                                                                465.00

            (b) Supply Reserve                                                                904.00

                                                                        Total (CADC) :        1,369.00

                                                                        Total of A & B :       8,023.27