Mangrove withstood cyclone Amphan saved Bhitarkanika national park

    Kendrapara (Odisha), Jun 6 (PTI) The rich mangrove
forest cover in Bhitarkanika National Park successfully
withstood the wind velocity as the cyclone Amphan had barreled
through coastal Odisha last fortnight, bringing in its wake
trails of devastation, officials said.
    The tropical cyclone had triggered damage in coastal
parts, but it had spared Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) and
adjoining hamlets in Kendrapara district with lush-green
luxuriant mangrove cover acting protective barrier to natures
    Almost a fortnight after the cyclonic storm, the
national park authorities have come out with brighter and
cheering notes - the mangrove forest successfully withstood
the wind velocity of the cyclone.
    Because of the thick density of mangrove forest in
Bhitarkanika, the flora and fauna of the park were unharmed
due to the cyclone, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar
Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bikash Ranjan Dash.
    The villages on the close periphery of the national
park were also saved as the mangrove cover acted as a buffer
zone in protecting the human settlements, he said.
    It is because of the mangroves that the coastal region
including the national park could not be impacted by cyclone.
In the 1999 super cyclone, the area was also saved as the
species bore the onslaught of gusty wind. The mangrove is a
proven and time-tested natural barrier against tidal surge and
cyclones in these parts.
    People in these parts have also realized the immense
utility value of mangrove forest and are lending a helping
hand to the forest department in the conservation of this
tidal woodland. Mangrove forests with its intricate root
system stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm
surges, currents, waves, and tides, the official said.
    Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of
mangrove genes. Researchers have come across 11 of the 70
mangrove species, which were at elevated threat of extinction
in the world, in Bhitarakanika. Mangroves are regarded as
natural barriers against the tidal surge and cyclones. Because
of its rich mangrove cover, cyclonic storms from time to time
have failed to make inroads into the wetland sites, he said.
    Odisha with a mangrove forest area of 231 square
kilometre with a major chunk of being in Bhitarkanika stands
second only to Sunderbans in West Bengal. Besides Bhitarkanika
in Kendrapara, the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak,
Jagatsinghpur and Puri are also home to mangrove, otherwise
known as coastal woodland, said another official.
    Around 82 square km area in Bhitarkanika is densely
mangrove-infested while 95 square km area is having moderate
mangrove forest. 54 square km patches are sparsely covered
under Mangrove forest, he said.
    "October 29-30, 1999-super cyclone had devastated
large areas. However, our village was saved from natures fury
as the standing mangroves trees acted as bio-shield. Since
then, locals realized that mangrove is the lifeline for people
living here. Locals here religiously adhere to the policy of
protecting the forest", recalled Pradeep Das, a resident of
Dangamal village lying on the close periphery of the
Bhitarkanika National Park.
    The mangrove forest considerably reduced the wind
velocity during 1999 super cyclone. It did so during cyclone
Amphan that rolled past Odisha coast, he said. PTI COR SKN

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)