Soil erosion, timber smuggling take a toll on casuarinas

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Bhograi: Casuarinas are said to be a deterrent against cyclones in coastal pockets, but sea erosion and timber smuggling have been taking a toll on this tree species here in Balasore district.

The forest department is allegedly doing little to save the forests, a report said.

As the forests are on decline, some areas along the coast have become vulnerable to cyclonic storms.
Another impact of the fall in casuarina cover is that temperature is rising in the coastal pockets.
The state has a coastline of 481 km from Udaypur in Balasore to Gopalpur in Ganjam. There were a large number of valuable trees along the coast, but over the time continuous sea erosion has washed away trees. Moreover, casuarinas have been target of timber mafia due to lack of monitoring by the forest department.

Environmentalists said the Forest Protection Act has been put in place since 1960, but forests along the coasts have not been saved here.
Reports said the Central and the state governments have been providing huge funds for forest protection and regeneration and public awareness drives.

The Tamil Nadu government has laid thrust on creating thick forest cover along a particular area with Japanese technology with two purposes – a bulwark against cyclone and generation of oxygen for the fauna.

Environmentalists here have demanded a similar move along the Balasore coast so as to ward off cyclonic threat to a number of villages. DFO Biswaraj Panda said saplings were planted to create a forest of casuarinas over 50 hectares of land along the Chandipur beach. “For lack of manpower, protecting the forest has not been possible,” he admitted. Environmentalist Sudarshan Das said that the forests of the state have been declining due to mining. This has impacted climate change, he noted.

Social activist Narayan Rout said people living in coastal pockets are prone to cyclonic threats due to
declining forests.
He alleged that coastal forests are thinning due to a nexus between forest officials and timber mafia.

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