IMPACT OF MINING ON TREE DIVERSITY OF THE COAL MINING FOREST AREA AT RANIGANJ COAL FIELD AREA OF WEST BENGAL, INDIASaikat Mondal, Debnath Palit and Pinaki Chattopadhyay
Mining triggers landscape and natural ecosystems to suffer significant damage. Plant populations are affected by mining practices and the ecosystems become devastated following the mining process, creating a very stringent situation for their production. Nutritionally-deficient sandy spoils resulting from extraction are sensitive to it and very late activities are revegetation and reclamation methods other than natural colonization. Since ages, the coal has been extensively mined in West Bengalâs Paschim Bardhaman district. The forests are the biggest victims of such operations that can be measured in all the mine belts from the depletion of the forests. As a consequence, most areas of the district were turned into mine spoils from the original lush green landscape. The primary objective of this research is to evaluate the tree composition of the Durgapur forest coal mining region at both disturbed and undisturbed sites and to understand the extent of tree cover and its status in mined and non-mined coal areas.Vast areas of the study area were transformed into degraded land due to extensive coal mining, creating adverse habitat conditions for plant life. Due to mining activity, the quantity of tree and shrub species has decreased. It has been found that the number of herbaceous plants that colonize the mined areas is much greater than in unmined areas. In mining areas, B. monosperma suggests its ability to grow in disturbed environments. The high importance value of B. monosperma in mining areas suggests its ability to grow in the disturbed environments. Shannon- Weaver diversity index in the mined areas was lower than the unmined areas due to the prevalence of one or two plant species. The contagious distribution trend of species throughout the mining area indicates a rise in natural vegetation fragmentation due to mining. The phytosociological indices even showed the effect of extraction on the areaâs tree structure. The current study has concluded that the subsequent analysis of tree growth can be used as an important tool to predict the suitability of specific species to revegetate the mined areas.