Orissa Chief Minister calls for forest conservation, reforestation, agro- forestry

A seminar were organised by the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation here on Saturday in the premises of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) on “Effective Community Management of Bio-diversity in an Era of Climate Change”. The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik grace the Occasion as Chief Guest.The Chief Minister expressed that there has been a global concern to preserve earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems, as over 16,000 species are estimated to be threatened with extinction. The population growth and consumption patterns have led to increased demand on land, energy and other natural resources which are the major drivers affecting biodiversity. Global warming caused by human actions and energy intensive consumption has created a serious but avoidable stress on our eco-system.Biodiversity conservation measures are to be grounded on two important principles of ‘Ecological Security’ and ‘Livelihood Security’. The livelihoods of the vast majority of the rural population in India, particularly in the agriculture dependent states, like Odisha are linked to natural resources and elements of biodiversity. Ecological Security is critical to the survival of millions of species, plants and animals and the eco-system services. This interdependence makes the primary stakeholders important partners in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
The Chief Minister further expressed that the Forest conservation, reforestation, afforestation and agro- forestry can potentially help mitigate climate change and support local livelihoods. Extensive afforestation and reforestation can establish ‘green corridors’ and boost biodiversity significantly if wide varieties of native tree species are planted.
The communities living in biodiversity rich areas have acquired rich indigenous ecological knowledge through generations of interaction with local eco-system that has shaped their cultures, lifestyles and livelihoods. The community based natural resource management, therefore, becomes a very effective approach to enabling both conservation of biodiversity and supporting local livelihoods. Odisha is rich in biodiversity. It has valuable floral and faunal wealth in its forest with a strong protected area network of 18 Sanctuaries and 2 National Parks. The state has 86 species of mammals, 4073 species of birds, 2720 species of plants, 110 species of reptiles and 20 species of amphibians enumerated so far. Our effort has been to protect our important eco-systems while supporting livelihood opportunities through a number of developmental projects.The Chief Minister said Conservation measures taken in specialized habitats like Similipal, Gandhamardhan, Chilika and Bhitarkanika are our shining examples of biodiversity conservation that have received international accolades. It is expected that the concerted approach followed in the integrated coastal zone management would also be helpful in mitigating the climate change risk to the coastal agro-biodiversity. Despite economic backwardness in some pockets, people of Odisha have shown considerable sensitiveness and concern towards wild animals as reflected in community protection of black buck in Ganjam and giant squirrels and birds in Bhitarkanika. To make conservation a mass movement, the state has also launched several programmes to provide incentive to individuals, educational institutions, civil society organizations by way of establishing eco-clubs, Prakruti Bandhu, Prakruti Mitra, and Biju Pattnaik Wild Life Awards. Community based conservation would be successful only through rational utilization of resources by all concerned. Considering the magnitude and complexity of the task ahead, The Chief Minister appealed to the Conservationist, Scientists, NGOs, Civil Society organizations, especially people living close to forests, wetlands, sanctuaries, etc. to contribute their ideas, knowledge and efforts to nurture and sustain the precious bio-resources of the region which has immense value and role in the human welfare.Dr. Swaminathan presided over the Occasion. Vice - Chancellor of OUAT Prof. D.P.Ray addressed welcome speech. Among others Minister of Agriculture and Cooperation Dr. Damodar Raut , Principal Secretary of Forest Department Sri U.N.Behera, Dr Narayan also spoke on the Occasion. Dr. Nambudri proposed vote of thanks.

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