Sikkim, one of the cleanest and greenest north-eastern States is keen to not just preserve its forest cover but also forge amity between people and trees.
Recently the Government of Sikkim came up with a unique way of preserving trees by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini.
A recent notification by the Forests, Environment & Wildlife Management Department, Government of Sikkim titled Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017 states that the ‘State government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship.’
The notification also states that a person can also adopt a tree ‘as if it was his or her own child in which case the tree shall be called an adopted tree.’
A third way to forge a relationship with a tree is by ‘preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a smriti tree.’
In case an individual wants to forge a relationship with a tree which does not stand on his or her land but another’s, the person concerned shall execute an agreement with the owner and compensate him or her in terms of the market value of the timber or the wood contained in the tree.
In the second scenario if the person desires to enter into a relationship with a tree located on public land then permission from the said department or agency needs to be taken.