The forest department has identified six species of trees which are worshipped as deities of their clans by bheel and bhilala tribes since time immemorial.
Under the 'Dev-vriksha Protector Scheme', members of the tribal communities would be given the responsibility to protect the 'dev-vrikhsas' or 'god-trees' of their clans, Chief Forest Officer, Indore, P C Dubey told reporters.
The scheme will be launched in Dhar, Jhabua and Alirajpur districts where there is a substantial tribal population, he said, adding, trees such as peeple, jamun, banyan, mango, iron-wood and the bamboo plant would be handed over to the tribes to be protected from destruction.
"The tribals have absolute faith in trees of their clans which they have been worshipping as deities for centuries. They don't let any kind of damage happen to their 'god' trees and we will use this sentiment to safeguard the green cover," Dubey said.
Vishal Verma, an expert in tribal culture, said, "The western part of the state has inhabitants belonging to the bheel and bhilala tribes, which have hundreds of sub-tribes. All of them worship various trees or animals as gods."
The tribes and sub-tribes have such strong emotional ties with the trees that they are named after them. For instance, the bansuniya sub-tribe worships the 'baans' or bamboo plant, while the jamulas worship the jamun tree, he said.