Odisha has recorded the highest increase in mangrove forest, otherwise described as coastal woodland, in the country in the last three years, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Thursday.
Inaugurating a conference of Divisional Forest officers, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the State had added the highest growth in the mangrove forest in the country while adding that in spite of the difficult situation due to the pandemic, Odisha’s forest cover has improved in the last two years as per India State of Forests Report- 2021.
Patnaik directed the forest officials to prepare a concrete roadmap for improving the health of State’s forests and enhancing the living standards of our forest fringe villagers.
“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 members and tireless effort of forest staff in the field”, he said while calling upon the officials to work towards continuing this trend in the years to come.
“Afforestation is a key component for providing employment to people in forest fringe villages. He advised the officials to rope in Women Self Help Groups for raising seedlings for the forest department”, he said.
“Many of 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”, he said.
Speaking on various issues such as human-elephant conflict, trafficking of wildlife, and the incidents of forest fires, he said that these are key concerns where we need to prepare an integrated plan with a focussed approach for significant reduction in such cases.
He also expressed satisfaction over Odisha becoming a leading state in harnessing digital technology in forest management.
As per the latest India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, the mangrove forest area in Odisha has increased by 8 square kilometers in a three-year period spanning from 2019-2021. The State’s growth rate is the highest in the country. Odisha was followed by Maharashtra (4 sq km) and Karnataka (3 sq km), said forest officials.
The total mangrove cover in the country is 4,992 sq km and there has been an increase of 17 sq Km in mangrove cover as compared to the previous assessment of 2019.
Of the 258.98 square kilometers of total cover in Odisha, the State has 80.43 square kilometers of ‘very dense’ mangrove cover, all in Kendrapara district.
The south 24 Pargana district in West Bengal alone accounts for 41.74% of mangrove cover in the country.
Mangroves are salt-resistant plant communities; these species exhibit a variety of adaptations in morphology, anatomy and physiology to survive in water-logged soils, high salinity and frequent cyclonic storms and tidal surges. Mangroves are important refuges of coastal biodiversity and act as bio-shields against extreme climate events.