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Chir Pine (Pinus Roxburghii)

  • Context (TH): The Pine needle power projects to check Uttarakhand forest fires proved to be inadequate.
  • Chirpine is a large evergreen tree with an elongated crown and forms a straight cylindrical bole.
  • Distribution: Its native range extends from Tibet and Afghanistan through Pakistan, across northern India, Nepal and Bhutan, to Myanmar.
  • It grows between a lower elevation of 500 metres to a higher elevation of 2,200 metres and forms a pure forest.
  • The Chir Pine is well-adapted to the Montane Temperate Forests of the Himalayas.
  • Conservation status: IUCN: Least Concern

Chir Pine - Avenue Trees

Credit: Exotic flora


  • The timber part of the tree is largely used for various purposes, such as house building, furniture, tea chests, and musical instruments.
  • Chirpine oleoresin yields:
    1. Turpentine oil: It is used in the preparation of paints and varnishes, polishes, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It is also used for dissolving fats, and resin and for domestic purposes.
    2. Rosin: Rosin is extensively used in soap, paper, paints and varnishes, pinoleums, sealing waxes, oil cloth, inks and disinfectants.
  • Its cones are used for decorative and handicraft purposes.
  • The bark of the tree doesn’t catch fire easily since it has a very high ignition temperature. Hence, the blacksmiths use the bark of the chir pine in furnaces to melt metal.

Concerns associated with Chir Pine

  • Pine needles are highly inflammable and are one of the main causes of forest fires.
  • It prevents regeneration of undergrowth on the forest floor as it makes the soil more acidic through its fallen needles
  • It contributes to soil erosion due to its shallow roots.

Pine needle power projects

  • Announced in 2021, it aimed at establishing power projects that would use the pine needles as fuel to generate electricity.
  • It aimed at establishing multiple units ranging from 10kW to 250 kW across the State in three phases (worth about 150 MW).
  • Nodal agency: Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA)
  • Though the government expected 58 units to be set up, only six units of 250 kW (totally worth 750 kW) have been established.
  • Potential of Chir pine: Of Uttarakhand’s total forest area, 16.36% is covered by Chir pine forests. As per estimates, over 15 lakh tonnes of pine leaves are annually generated. 40% of the estimated quantity available, coupled with other agricultural residue, could significantly aid the State’s power requirements.
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