Mitigation of immediate damages from tropical cyclones on the coastal forest ecosystem: A Case of Wildlife Sanctuaries
Keywords:Biodiversity, Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary, Cyclone Fani, Natural disasters, Tropical cyclones
The Indian State of Odisha has been the hotspot for extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, cyclones, severe droughts, floods, and extreme cyclones, throughout history. The state is witnessing natural calamities at an alarming frequency challenging sustenance of all sorts. There have been cases of 30 cyclones hitting the state in the last 11 years. Even though the coastline of Odisha constitutes 17% of the eastern coastline of India, it has witnessed damage and destruction of almost 35% of all cyclonic storms which crossed the eastern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Coastal Orrisa has been the battleground for survival from dreadful cyclones in all these cases. Wherever the cyclones make landfall there is a substantive alteration in the dynamics of landscape and wildlife. On the third and fourth of May 2019 cyclone ‘Fani’ made landfall in Odisha’s coastal forest areas comprising Balukhand wildlife sanctuary and caused catastrophic destruction to its landscape and wildlife resources within only a few hours. The sanctuary previously considered to be an important physiological barrier to the nearby agrarian community because of its dense plantation for controlling soil erosion, turned into a barren land with most of the trees severely damaged. Many studies and strategies have been developed to safeguard the interests of man and society during such extreme weather events. However, the formulation of proper strategies for the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife, which could have prevented loss and extreme damage to ecology considerably, has not been done so far. The objectives of this paper are to (1) study the pattern of damage to the existing vegetation, (2) analyze the destruction of wildlife and vegetation, and (3) propose biodiversity management and mitigation measures and increase preparedness for such cyclones in the coming future.
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