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Odisha Forest Cover Rises

Bhubaneswar: The investment in Ama Jungle Yojana (AJY) and Joint Forest Management (JFM) under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has yielded its dividend for Odisha with net increase of dense forest area by 243 sq kms during last two years.

As per India State of Forest Report (ISFR)-2021, Odisha also became first in the rate of increase in mangrove forest, and third in Forest rich Tiger Reserve.

This was known the State level Steering  Committee Authority of CAMPA  meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra here on Thursday.

While complementing the department for these achievements, the Chief Secretary directed the department to focus of the preventive fire protection.

Mr.Mahapatra said “As forest fire creates devastation to many plant and animal life, 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. They were also asked to ensure active involvement of the local community in this task.

Further, Mr.Mahapatra directed to raise the seedlings through WSHGs. It was decided that the 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 supported the livelihood activities of many forests-dependent families.

 Development Commissioner Pardeep Kumar Jena asked to have independent third-party assessment of the investments done in forestry sector and prepare a detail report on the outcomes.

Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Dr Mona Sharma appraised that as per as per ISFR-2021, the very dense forest in Odisha was 7213 sq km with additional increase of 243 sq km during last two years. Similarly, the State also became first in the growth rate of mangrove forest with additional increase of 8 square kms taking the total to 259 sq kms.

Maharashtra became second with additional increase of around 4 sq kms followed by Karnataka with increase of around 3 sq kms.

Similipal reserve forest also became third in Forest rich Tiger Reserve.

She added that around 10,000 women self-help groups (WSHGs) and VSS would be involved in forest activities during the annual action plan period of 2022-23.

The Committee deliberated and approved the APO of around Rs.1241 cr under CAMPA for the year 2022-23. The principal activities of the APO included compensatory afforestation, wild life management, improvement of wild life habitat, new plantation, maintenance of old plantation, silvi cultural operation, silk plantation, soil and moisture conservation, forest conservation, fire protection, infrastructural support to front line workers, and application of IT and GIS methods in forest management.

 Secretary IT Manoj Kumar Mishra said that DFO offices would be connected through OSWAN network.

Principal Chief Conservator Forest, Sishir Kumar Ratho said that around 25,000 hectares plantation would be done under AJY in the areas of 500 vana sanrakshyana samities with estimated investment of around Rs.69 cr.

 So far, 4600 VSSs were involved in different activities of afforestation and conservation. Mr.Ratho also appraised that 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.

It was also decided that more nursery raising and afforestation activities would be taken up in convergence with MGNREGS.

Principal Secretary Panchyati Raj and Drinking Water Ashok Kumar Meena, Principal Secretary Revenue and Disaster Management Satyabrata Sahu, Chief Executive Officer CAMPA Dr Pradeep Raj Karkat along with senior officers of concerned departments participated in the discussion.