|Town/Region||Dhenkanal District, Orissa State|
|Date||7 Jul 2009|
Banyan trees are useful trees with multi utility value since they provide a number of benefits for both wildlife, humans and domestic animals. The banyan tree provides shade to humans and cattle during the hot Indian summer. They offer a safe nesting site and are a source of food for many avifauna and mammals including owls, mynahs, crows, barbets, orioles, egrets, storks, squirrels, bats, etc. Protecting banyan trees would lead to a healthy ecosystem since needs of shelter and food of wildlife are met.
However, due to loss of hanging roots, mature banyan trees are now under increasing threat in most parts of Orissa. After the super cyclone hit Orissa in October,1999 we discovered that a large number of banyan trees were uprooted which was quite unexpected since trees are known to withstand cyclones and storms. We found that most trees had under developed or damaged hanging roots which had become stunted due to regular damage. Goats which nibble the tender growth are the chief menace Sometimes, people cut off hanging roots.
This project is a continuation of the previous work done in the target villages of Hindol block of Dhenkanal district, Orissa for the last four years with support from the Rufford Foundation. We protected the hanging roots by erecting a fence around the tree which would prevent damage by goats and humans. This was done in close partnership with the local community. Awareness meetings to explain the immense contribution of the banyan trees to nature conservation were held in target villages. We also roped in school students by conducting quiz programmes. The hanging roots do not need protection after the initial period of 2 years once they strike the ground. Under this proposal, we plan to expand our work by adoption of 250 new banyan trees. Plantation of 500 saplings will also be taken up to augment the banyan tree population.
We also aim to integrate this activity into community welfare schemes which are funded by the government which would ensure that more trees are protected by adequate public funds. There are also plans for conservation of the local natural landscape by motivating the local community to conserve water bodies to provide drinking water for wildlife. We shall also train local volunteers to fight forest ground fires which destroy huge numbers of regenerating seedlings and ground dwelling wildlife.
To read about Biswajit's previous grants https://www.rufford.org/rsg/projects/biswajt_mohanty or for further information contact: