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Mangrove forest cover consistently increasing in Odisha: Report

Sources say the corona-induced lockdown has played a vital role
Mangroves are salt tolerant plant species found in the intertidal regions along the creeks and estuaries near the coast close to the river mouths.
Mangroves are salt tolerant plant species found in the intertidal regions along the creeks and estuaries near the coast close to the river mouths.
File photo

Subhashish Mohanty   |   Bhubaneswar   |   Published 20.05.22, 03:54 AM

The corona pandemic has come as a boon for Odisha at least on one front. During the last two years, the state has added the highest number of mangrove forests in the country and its forest cover is consistently increasing.

Sources said the corona-induced lockdown has played a vital role in the increase of forest cover. The activities of the forest mafias were marginalised to a great extent during this period, leading to an increase in forest cover, official sources said.

Inaugurating a conference of divisional forest officers here on Thursday, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said: “We have added the highest number of mangrove forests in the country and third highest in total increase of forest cover between 2019 and 2021. This has been possible due to constant support of our people, the VSS (Vana Samrakshana Samithi) members and tireless effort of forest staff in the field.”

Mangroves are salt tolerant plant species found in the intertidal regions along the creeks and estuaries near the coast close to the river mouths.

The India State Forests Report-2021 has also mentioned about the increase in the forest cover in Odisha. As per the report, the mangrove forest area in Odisha has gone up by 8sqkm between 2019 and 2021. Odisha’s growth rate is the highest in the country. Odisha was followed by Maharashtra (4sqkm) and Karnataka (3sqkm).

The total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sqkm and there has been an increase of 17sqkm in mangrove cover as compared to the previous assessment of 2019.

Of the 258.98sqkm of mangrove forest cover in Odisha, the state has 80.43sqkm of very dense mangrove cover.

Naveen has asked the forest officers to prepare a concrete roadmap for improving the health of the state’s forests and enhancing the living standards of our forest fringe villagers. Stating that afforestation is a key component for providing employment to people in forest fringe villages, Naveen asked the officials to rope in Women Self Help Groups for raising seedlings for the forest department. “Our forestry programmes such as Joint Forest Management and the Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project have been successful in providing livelihoods and empowering the local communities,” Naveen said.

He also raised the issues of human-elephant conflict, trafficking of wildlife, and the incidents of forest fires. “These are key concerns where we need to prepare an integrated plan with a focussed approach for significant reduction in such cases,” Naveen said, adding Odisha is now a leading state in harnessing digital technology in forest management.

Minister of forest, environment and climate change Bikram Keshari Arukha said: “We have been successful in reducing the incidents of forest fires by 50% this year in comparison to previous years.”

“The state’s green cover has been increasing consistently for the last 20 to 25 years,” chief secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said.



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