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Forest & Forestry

Forest is one of the richest natural resources of Sikkim. With luxuriant forest abounding in all part of state, Forestry has been the major land use in the State and 82.31% of the total geographical area of the State is under the administrative control of the State Forest Department. The total forest cover of the State as per the latest Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 is 3341.03 sq. km (47.08% of the total geographical area of the state) and tree cover is 39 sq km.  The total forest and tree cover accounts to 47.63% of the total geographical area of the state. composition ranges from tropical Dry Deciduous Forests with Sal and its associates in the valleys of Teesta and Rangit to the Alpine Scrub and grassland in high altitude.


Note:   In the State of Sikkim about 44 % of total geographical area is under Alpine pasture & scrub and under perpetual snow cover. Hence, in these areas, it would not be possible to bring the tree cover. The area considered for the tree cover may therefore be excluding these areas.


Sikkim Forest Statistics (Source: Indian State of Forest Report - Forest Survey of India)  [Top]
Forest Types of Sikkim
Sl no Groups Characteristic Species Altitude (mts) Places
1. Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest  
  Dillenia pentagyna
Dysoxylum floribundum
Gymnema arborea
Lagerostroemia patviflora
Shorea robusta
Toona ciliata
250-900 Rangpo Chhu, Sherwani,  Jorethang, Rangit
2. Sub-Tropical Forest      
    Broad Leaved
Albizia procera, Alnus
Bauhinia purpurea
Castanopsis indica,
Macaranga denticulata,
Michelia champaca,
Schima wallichii
1000-2000 Tong,Gyalzing, Sangklang Selem Chakung Chhu.

    Pine forests
Pinus roxburghii, Engelhardtia colebrookiana Quercus leucotrichophora 1000-1800 Gangtok, Gyalzing,     Rongli
3. Montantane Wet Temperate Forest
    Broad Leaved
Acer campbellii, Engelhardtia spicata, Machilus edulis, Michelia cathcartii, Quercus lamellose, Taxus baccata 1700-2700 Chunthang- Lachung, Yumthang
ii)Mixed Coniferous
    temperate forest
Abies densa,         Acer campbellii,  Betula utiis, Rhododendron, arboreum,Abies densa, Taxus baccata,    Tsuga dumosa,     Larix   griffithianum 2700-3000 Lachen, Zemu, Yathang, Lachung
4. Sub-Alpine Forest
  Abies densa,       Betula utiis,      Casiope fastigata, Rhododendron sp. Above 3000 Above Yathang
5. a)Moist Alpine
i) Birch-
    Scrub Forest  
Betula utilis, Sorbus foliolosa, Rhododendron campanulatum, Above 3600 Thangu, Maiminchu
ii) Deciduous
    Alpine Scrub
Betula utilis,   Berberis sp.,  Lonicera sp.,        Rosa sp 3600-3900 Changu      Thangu  
iii) Dwarf
Rhododendron lepidotum Above 3600 Thangu
iv) Alpine pastures Allium, Anemone, Delphinium Above 4000 Chopta  Yumasong
b) Dry Alpine Scrub      
 i) Dwarf Juniperous scrub Juniperusrecurva   J. wallichiana Above 3600 Chopta    Chhangu
ii) Dry alpine scrub Ephedra gerardiana, Meconopsis sp.,  Ribes sp. Above 4000 Chopta

Forest Management

Strengthening of Territorial Sector: Forrest Management and Protection are the dual functions of this sector.  The Government has addressed these vital issues in recent years than ever before in politically sensitive way.  A motivated field staff, sound legal enactment, efficient & effective transport and communication, accommodation facilities, self defence and uniforms, etc. are some of the pre-requisites to accomplish the effective management and protection.

The State Government has brought about vital amendments in the present Sikkim Forest Water Courses and Road Reserve (Preservation and Protection) Act,1988 (Amendment 2000)  to make the specified clause more stringent and harsh in enforcement.  Offences such as illegal felling of trees, encroachment and grazing in the Reserve Forest have been made non-bailable.  Other important initiatives, measures and actions taken are as follows:

Intensification of Management & Protection: The overall management of forest land and forestry resources have been intensified by better patrolling, effective forest check posts, check on illegal extraction and   transit of forest produce, reporting and recording of all forests offences and other information in Head quarter control room and Division control rooms, registration of forest cases, check on leakage of forest revenue and better communication system.

But, still many more things needs to be done at field forest staff at Forest Guard Level, More Wireless systems, Patrolling vehicles for Ranges, Arms & Ammunition, Office & residential buildings, renovation and up gradation of many existing buildings, Fixed TD/ DA to non Gazetted field staff, Ration allowance to non Gazetted field staff, better facilities in High Altitude and difficult area are required to be considered for further strengthening the system.

Forest Fire Management: A forest fire management policy has been developed in State for the first time to enable the government to focus on fire prevention aspects and to coordinate efforts by various agencies towards this important function. The policy integrates modern fire fighting approaches with community based fire fighting strategies and is devised to preserve the unique biodiversity of the forests of the State especially those of the lower altitudes. The policy provides for zoning of the forests on the basis of their vulnerability, assessed ecological impacts and intrinsic value so that different treatments can be meted out to the different zones. In the year 2003-04 the Forest details are as under:


Area affected by fire (ha)

No of incidents

Loss due to fire

Casualties (if any)

Type of fire





Most of the cases are of ground fire due to which ground flora, natural regeneration, plantations/ saplings & some of the trees including the wildlife habitat has been damaged  & affected.


Manmade/ incidental

For control and immediate action, W/T control room in head office and all the districts has been made operational round the clock and proper recording of data has been taken up.

















Grazing control: The Government has imposed a ban on grazing within the Reserve Forest, Plantation areas and Water sources  areas with a view to encourage regeneration of forest resources, augment rural water supplies and develop degraded lands. The beneficial effects of this policy are already manifested in the form of improved supplies of water in the villages bordering the Forest areas, regeneration of degraded forest land and enhancement if overall natural resources status. A number of Gots have been removed and the cattle have been impounded & fined along with the wide publicity & awareness.

Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) & FDA: The policy of the Government to decentralize powers and functions to the grassroots levels has also been extended to the territorial and wildlife sectors.  The Government has adopted the participatory approach to forest protection, management and development. It has taken up formation of Joint Forest Management Committees / Eco-Development Committees at the village-level which comprises of all the villagers who wish to participate in the forest management, development and protection functions of the forests that are located in the vicinity of their villages. So far 155 JFMCs (Under four territorial FDAs) have been registered all over the State and the work of JFMC constitution in the villages not yet covered. At the district level all the JFMCs have together been formed into a confederation called the Forest Development Agency (FDA). The JFMCs will be entrusted with the task of afforestation and protection of the natural resources of their area and they will be implementing the National Afforestation Programme through the four FDAs in the Tenth Plan period. More than 10000 hectares of land will be developed over the Plan period through this Scheme.

Infrastructure Development (Buildings): The Government has been developing infrastructural facilities for the Forest, Environment & Wildlife management staff with Central as well as State assistance in order to modernize its management and protection functions. At Gangtok Transit Hostel, Repair of road, quarter has been completed.  Divisional Forest Officer quarters/office(4), Assistant Conservator of Forest quarters(4), RO quarters(6), BO quarters(12), FG quarters(30) and Check posts(3) have been completed during the period 2002-03-04.

Infrastructure Development (Wireless Communication & Arms/ Ammunition): The wireless communication has been strengthened further. Almost State-wide Wireless Networking has been achieved except a few locations like Lachen, Lachung, Lingmoo and a few other areas which are likely to be covered in the next year. Static sets, hand sets mobile sets have been provided to all the field level functionaries for effective communication.  In keeping with the requirements of modern policing functions of forest areas the Government has also inducted arms / ammunition to the field level staff. Arms /ammunition have been provided to selected stations. There is need to procure more which may be done in the current year. Arms training was done at SAP headquarter, Pangthang. At present total (W/T): Repeater sets-5 nos, Static sets-43 nos, Hand sets-73 nos. along with accessories, Total (Arms): .22 Rifle -25nos., .315 Rifle- 6nos. and 9mm auto Pistol -9 nos along with ammunition

Infrastructure Development (Computerization): Computerizations of important forestry functions have been initiated. Computers have been provided to all the divisions. There is need to provide computer in selected Ranges also. Fax machines have also been provided to all divisions.

Survey & Demarcation: The government proposes to take up survey and demarcation of forest areas during the Tenth Plan in order to consolidate the forest resources of the State. In the area Survey and Demarcation of the forest land have been initiated in the systematic manner. The forest areas in Sikkim in the first half of the 20th century had been surveyed and demarcated into Reserves, Khasmal and Gorucharan forests. The forest boundaries then had been demarcated by erecting loose stone mounds. These have subsequently vanished due to the burgeoning population leading to sizable forest area encroachment. In order to determine the exact extent of encroachment resurvey was required. Subsequently to establish the forest boundaries and evict the encroachers resurvey & demarcation by erecting new iron post pillars had commenced from 2001. In the initial phase 72 kms of the forest boundaries was surveyed & demarcated by erecting 223 iron pillar posts at a cost of Rs.8.53 lakhs. However while surveying & demarcating 72 kms, three pillars per km was found insufficient to distinctly demarcate the  states forest boundaries due to the  difficult and undulating terrain spread over remote hilly areas. Hence after obtaining the necessary approval for erecting ten pillars per km, the resurvey & demarcation activities commenced from 2003 wherein108 kms of the forest boundaries were surveyed and demarcated during 2003-04 at an expenditure of Rs.24.90 lakhs. Thus 180 kms of the boundaries have been surveyed and demarcated with 1306 nos of iron pillar posts till date. All the forest boundaries so demarcated till date are of RFs. The spillover of 32 kms at Rs.7.32 lakhs are being undertaken during the CFY i.e 2004-05. However due to the late receipt of the sanction letter for 2003-04 and the change in funding pattern from 100%CSS to 75%:25%; the original target of surveying & demarcating 700 kms of forest boundaries are being taken up in the current year.

Transport & Other facilities: Patrolling vehicle with wireless communication system has been provided to all the four Territorial divisions. There is need to  have the more patrolling vehicles in sensitive selected ranges like Lachen, Lachung, Singtam, Namthang, Melli, Nayabazar and one in Gangtok for control room.

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