Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that despite the difficult situation due to the pandemic, our forest cover has improved in the last two years as per the India State of Forests Report- 2021.
“We have added the highest number of mangrove forests in the country and the third highest in a total increase of forest cover between 2019 and 2021. This has been possible due to the constant support of our people, the VSS members, and the tireless effort of forest staff in the field”, Chief Minister said.
He said that 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 urged to carry the plantation programmes under the 5T Initiative. He added that this would bring transparency, timeliness, and encourage teamwork among all stakeholders.
He said that 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.
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 focused approach for significant reduction in such cases.
He expressed happiness over Odisha becoming a leading state in harnessing digital technology in forest management.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change Bikram Keshari Arukha outlined the initiatives taken by the Department under the vision of the Chief Minister. He noted that the Department has successfully reduced incidents of forest fires by fifty percent this year in comparison to previous year.
Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said that apart from the usual functions of forest conservation and wildlife protection, the Department now has a larger role to facilitate projects that provide livelihood support for people living in forest areas.
ACS Forest Smt. Mona Sharma gave the welcome address. PCCF Sisir Kumar Ratho offered the vote of thanks. A short video on forest fire management was screened.