Trees for Cyclone-Affected Area
Balukhanda Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha, India
100,000 trees adopted by TATA AIA Life Insurance
Project PurposeTrees for Forests™ & Wildlife
Plantation of local tree species in approximately 110 hectares of land at the periphery of Balukhanda wildlife sanctuary, Puri, Odisha, India (area severely affected by Fani cyclone).
Cyclone Fani, with a wind speed of about 175 kilometres per hour, was the second-most powerful cyclone to have hit Odisha in early May 2019. Total damage in Odisha was estimated at Rs. 12,000 crores (US$1.74 billion), mostly in property damage and the relief. According to an article published in India Today, “More than 10 million trees were uprooted with an equal number of trees damaged in the extremely severe cyclone. The figure may rise as forest officials are yet to receive the complete report on the damage to the forest cover in Puri. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Sandip Tripathy told The Express that around 50 percent trees have been uprooted while the crown of the remaining half damaged in Balukhanda sanctuary. The sanctuary was home to around 90 lakh trees. "The damage to green cover is so massive that it will take at least a decade for its revival. We will recommend the State Government to launch a special project for Balukhand for the restoration of the damaged forest," the PCCF said. "Now, our main task will be to ensure re-plantation of the uprooted trees to revive the green cover," said Tripathy.”
In an interview with the Grow-Trees team, Mr. Harshabardhan Udgata, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Puri said, "The plantation, forests, everything has been damaged severely at the Balukhanda Wildlife Sanctuary, its peripheral areas, and other adjoining areas of the Puri town due to Cyclone Fani. We need rapid restoration of the vegetation and help from everyone. This is a site which is very important for the Puri town, because it is called the ‘Sweet Water Zone’. Entire drinking water is tapped from the groundwater available here and supplied to the town. 4 years prior to Fani, the Forest Department had planted casuarina and acacia, but now everything is damaged. Although their leaves are coming up, the tops are broken, because of which it can not grow up and act as the canopy. So, an initiative by Grow-Trees, to plant 250,000 saplings in the gap areas will create the top canopy on maturity and all these broken plants will act as the middle canopy. There will be 2 stratas of canopies which will break the speed of the rainwater and ultimately prevent soil erosion."
Even though around 4,000 deer were found safe in the Balukhanda Wildlife Sanctuary, their habitat has been completely destroyed. In order to bring back the harmony in the city and assure protection of wildlife, it is imperative to take immediate actions and initiate re-plantation of the loss at the earliest.
Flora and Fauna
The state of Odisha houses very rare species of flora comprising of orchids and mangroves. The forests are populated with Teak and Bamboo trees along with some species bearing medicinal values (for eg., Karanj) and Kendu plants. These forests are mainly classified into tropical dry deciduous forests and tropical moist deciduous forests. The Balukhanda and Chandaka reserves are the most famous forest reserves.
The forests of Odisha also nurture a wide and rare variety of fauna from the Royal Bengal Tigers to the giant Asiatic elephants. The state is home to eighteen wildlife sanctuaries, three national parks and three wildlife reserves. The forests serve as an abode for Leopards, Lion Tailed Macaque, Barking Deer, Giant Squirrel, Indian Pangolin, Mouse Deer, Chowsinghas, Flying Cat, Sloth Bear, Sambar and Wild Dogs. It is also the habitation for reptiles such as Cobra, Python, Gharial, etc.
Casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia), Karanj (Millettia pinnata) and Earleaf Acacia (Acacia auriculiformis).
On average, a tree offsets 20 kg of carbon and produces 118 kg of oxygen every year upon maturity. The trees reverse the effect of adverse climatic conditions and natural phenomena, thus, protecting the community at risk. The project will aid in the restoration of vegetation that was lost due to Cyclone Fani. It will help in groundwater recharge, improving wildlife habitat and reducing soil erosion. One of the tree species, Karanj, which is also a medicinal plant, will not only produce organic litter by leaf shedding but will also act as a source of pollen and nectar for the production of dark honey. It is increasingly used for oil production due to its use in biodiesel. Furthermore, the project will generate 20,000+ workdays of employment for the rural communities.
In 2019-20, 250,000 seedlings were planted on the outskirts of the Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary in Odisha. Cyclone Fani wreaked havoc on this area, uprooting and destroying thousands of trees. Saplings were chosen in consultation with the local forest department and based on ecological conditions. Acacia, Karanj, and casuarina were chosen to be planted in the forest area in a 60:20:20 ratio. Adequate water boring for irrigation of saplings which were planted has been done. Eight borings were set up to account for the soil and unexpected weather/temperature variations. These efforts yielded a success rate of 82.61 per cent.
Due to Covid19 pandemic limitations, only 11.40 per cent of the overall plantation could be physically verified. The project has been carried out in a positive manner, and these healthy grown-up saplings will play a vital role in recovering the landscape's destroyed ecosystem.