Prepare Roadmap to Improve Health of Forests & Enhance Living Standards of Forest Fringe Villagers: Odisha CM Asks DFOs

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Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has asked the Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) to prepare a concrete roadmap for improving the health of forests and enhancing the living standards of forest-fringe villagers in the state.

Inaugurating a two-day conference of Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) at the state convention centre in Lok Seva Bhawan here today, the Chief Minister said that in spite of the difficult situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Odisha’s forest cover has improved in the last two years as per 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 constant support of our people, the VSS members and tireless effort of forest staff in the field”, he said. He called upon the officials to work towards continuing this trend in the years to come.

The Odisha CM 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 (WSHGs) for raising seedlings for the Forest Department. He urged to carry out the plantation programmes under the 5T Initiative. This would bring transparency, and timeliness and encourage teamwork among all stakeholders, he added.

The Chief Minister 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, the Odisha CM said that these are key concerns where we need to prepare an integrated plan with a focussed approach for a significant reduction in such cases. Further, he expressed happiness over Odisha becoming a leading state in harnessing digital technology in forest management.

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