Marginal rise of forest cover in Orissa

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 29 (UNI) The forest cover in Orissa has shown a marginal increase with a net addition of 21 sq kms of forest area during 2004 and 2005, a report of the Forest Survey of India (FSI) released recently said.

However, the rate of addition is a dismal 0.04 per cent only during these two years, it stated.

The state had lost a total of 472 sq kms of forest during 2002 and 2003, Wildlife Society of Orissa Secretary Biswajit Mohanty said.

It was doubtful if the forest department could recover the loss since the addition of the forest was a mere 0.04 per cent compared to the loss of 0.97 per cent.

As per the FSI Report, Orissa added 51 sq km of very dense forest but lost 56 sq kms of moderately dense forest and added 26 sq kms of open forest leading to a net increase of 21 sq km.

The state has a total area of 1,55,707 sq kms and as per the latest census only 31 per cent of the area of the state has actual forests.

However, only 18 per cent of the state's geographical area was covered by dense forests which should be 33 per cent, Mr Mohanty said.

The state has a recorded forest area of 58,136 sq kms but actually it has a forest area of 48,374 sq kms, including 4,743 sq kms of scrub forest.

Sources said a total of 538 sq kms of very dense forests have been recorded only from four districts- Mayurbhanj, Balasore (Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary), Rayagada and Kandhamal including 319 sq kms in Simlipal Tiger Reserve.

The Kandhamal district is considered as most densely forested with 68 per cent of its geographical area covered with forests, followed by Gajapati (58 per cent).

The coastal Bhadrak district has only 0.35 per cent of its area covered with forests.

Districts like Ganjam and Koraput have lost forests.Districts like Rayagada, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Dhenkanal have recorded small additions of 3 to 6 sq kms each.

Mr Mohanty said the state had lost 603 sq kms of scrub forests which indicated that the scope for further improvement in forest cover was bleak since the growing stock found in the scrub forests was destroying fast as these areas were being encroached upon for farming.

UNI DP KK SYU RAI1956

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