Forest area in Odisha increased by 243 sq km
Bhubaneswar: The net dense forest area in Odisha has increased by 243 sq km during the last two years as per India State of Forest Report (ISFR)-2021.
According to the report, dense forest in Odisha increased to 7,213 sq km with additional increase of 243 sq km during the last two years. Similarly, the State also became first in the growth rate of mangrove forest with additional increase of 8 sq km taking the total area of mangrove forest to 259 sq km. Maharashtra became second with additional increase of around 4 sq km followed by Karnataka with increase of around 3 sq km. Similipal reserve forest also became third in forest rich tiger reserve. Around 10,000 women self-help groups (WSHGs) and Vana Suraksha Samitis (VSS) would be involved in forest activities during the annual action plan period of 2022-23.
Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra complimented the department for these achievements while chairing a meeting of the State level Steering Committee Authority of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management (CAMPA) here on Thursday. Mohapatra directed the department to focus on preventing forest fires.
He said, “as forest fire creates devastation to a large number of animal and plant lives, the field officials must remain extremely vigilant to check the outbreak and spread of the fire.” He directed the DFOs and field level forest officers to have more fire-break lines in the forest and keep those clean for checking spread of the fire and to involve local community in this task.
Mohapatra said that seedlings should be raised through women self-help groups. It was decided that WSHGs would grow 18-month-old seedlings which would be used for plantation under different forestry programmes. The department was also asked to increase the area under silk plantation as these trees support the livelihood activities of many families dependent on forest.
Development Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena called for independent third party assessment of the investments done in forestry sector and a detail report on the outcomes.
The committee approved the Annual Plan of Operations (APO) of around Rs 1,241 crore under CAMPA for the year 2022-23. The principal activities of the APO included compensatory afforestation, wildlife management, improvement of wildlife habitat, new plantation, maintenance of old plantation, silvicultural operation, silk plantation, soil and moisture conservation, forest conservation, fire protection, infrastructural support to frontline workers and application of IT and GIS methods in forest management.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Sishir Kumar Ratho said around 25,000 hecrates of plantation would be done under Ama Jungle Yojana (AJY) in the areas of 500 Vana Sanrakshyana Samitis with estimated investment of around Rs 69 crore.
So far, 4,600 VSSs were involved in different activities of afforestation and conservation. Ratho said 18-month-old seedlings would be raised by WSHGs in permanent nurseries of the department and around Rs 98 crore would be invested in the activity. The meeting decided to take up more nursery raising and afforestation activities in convergence with MGNREGS.
Picture courtesy: I and PR Department, Odisha.