Ecotourism park planned in Mayurbhanj

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3 Nov 2010
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The Orissa government announced recently that it is considering setting up an Ecotourism park in the Manchabandha Reserve of Baripada territorial forest division in Mayurbhanj district. A project for wildlife conservation in the area is also in the pipeline, forest department sources said. According to a report by Amarendra Bose in the Times of India, nearly 822 hectares of lush green forest area covered with dense Sal vegetation has been earmarked for the projects. Of the total area, 210 hectares has been allotted as the "core area,” while the remaining 612 hectares has been earmarked as the "buffer zone.” The estimated cost of the projects is Rs 10 crore.

"Located barely five kilometres from the district headquarters, the area has immense potential for housing an Ecotourism centre of national or even international standards," said Bijayram Das, retired Director, Department of Soil Conservation. Das, who is also a naturalist and an expert in landscaping, has designed ‘tree houses,’ ‘Bihanga Vihar,’ ‘Prajapati Vihar’ (Butterfly Park), and a well-caparisoned bullock cart ride for tourists.

“The forest is at present home to small animals like peacocks, porcupines, squirrels, hares, pangolins, monitor lizards and more than a hundred varieties of birds," Das said. Similipal is home to 93 varieties of orchids, three of which are common in Similipal. "We also have a proposal to start an in-situ conservation of orchids in the eco-tourism park," a forest official said. A ‘fernery’ will also be constructed where different varieties of ferns from Simlipal will be reared and conserved. Water sources available at the Kathpal rivulet will be developed for the use of both tourists and animals in the park. The park will also have facilities for boating, the sources added.

Revenue generated by Ecotourism will go to the local Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs), thus providing impetus for these bodies to conserve forests and wildlife. A central co-ordination committee of five JFMCs with the Manchabandha forester as its secretary will advise entrepreneurs on conservation of wildlife within the core area and management of Ecotourism.
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