To mitigate the influence of cyclones, 3,500 hectares have been recognized for coastal shelter belt plantation and 400 hectares for mangrove forests
When very extreme cyclonic storm Yaas made landfall lower than 50 km away from Odisha’s Bhitarakanika Nationwide Park within the final week of Could, officers within the Forest and Surroundings Division stored their fingers crossed on the survival of the park’s wealthy flora. Unfold over 145 sq. km., Bhitarakanika, one in every of India’s best biodiversity hotspots was, nonetheless, largely untouched by the sturdy winds accompanying the storm surge.
Because the 1999 tremendous cyclone that battered Odisha’s coast, six main cyclones have made landfall within the State, and mangrove forests have lived as much as their popularity of being a bio-shield in opposition to sturdy winds every time, with little influence of cyclones in mangrove-forested areas.
Based on the State Forest and Surroundings Division, solely a 100-odd timber have been uprooted and 6 small homes within the Habalikhati eco-tourism space suffered partial injury underneath Yaas’ influence. The whole injury to the Nationwide Park is estimated at roughly ₹48.37 lakh.
In contrast to inundation of 150 villages within the Bhadrak and Balasore districts within the storm surge, Kendrapara district, protected by a mangrove forest, was left largely unscathed.
Inspired by this time-tested safety, the Odisha authorities plans to take up mangrove plantation in 400 hectares of land alongside the ocean coast.
“We’ve 3,500 hectares of space obtainable for coastal shelter belt plantation to mitigate the influence of cyclonic winds, and 400 hectares for creating mangrove forests in seven coastal districts. These areas have been recognized to have bio-shields,” mentioned Susanta Nanda, State Director of Surroundings.
Mr. Nanda mentioned coastal areas, that are susceptible to tidal wave ingress, could be most well-liked for mangrove plantation, whereas coastal shelter belts having sand dunes could be lined with casuarina and cashew plantations.
Odisha at the moment has 220 sq. km. (22,000 hectares) of mangrove forests. Most of it (192 sq. km.) is present in Kendrapara, across the Bhitarakanika Nationwide Park.
In truth, Kalibhanjdia island, unfold over 8.5 sq. km. in Bhitarkanika, attracts the eye of scientists world over. It’s a nice assemblage of genetic range in mangrove forests, with 70% of all mangrove species discovered throughout the small space.
Aside from defending the hinterland in opposition to cyclones and sea water ingress throughout tidal surges, mangroves stabilise the coastal land mass from sea erosion.
Mr. Nanda mentioned a nursery could be developed for elevating mangrove saplings.
“We’ve now stepped up our efforts to retrieve encroached coastal land, that are used for various prawn cultures. We plan to cowl all vacant areas near the coast with mangrove forests,” mentioned Bikash Das, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajanagar Mangrove Division in Kendrapara.
Whereas the federal government is selling the plantation of mangrove species alongside the coast, there have additionally been particular person efforts to forestall tidal ingress. For greater than a decade, Bijay Kabi, a Kendrapada-based environmental activist, has helped regenerate mangroves in 25 acres of land and persuaded villagers to guard mangrove vegetation.
Beneath the influence of cyclone Yaas, areas akin to Talachua, Rangani and Magarakanda in Kendrapara district have been affected by tidal surge as a result of these villages didn’t have sufficient mangrove plantations between the ocean and human habitations, mentioned Mr. Kabi.