Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment



The Simlipal Tiger Reserves in Odisha underwent the massive fires recently. The wildfires broke in the biosphere reserve situated in the Mayurbhanj district of Assam.

Similipal Tiger Reserve

  • It is a tiger reserve situated in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha in the northern part.
  • The reserve derives its name from Simul tree (silk cotton tree).it comprises of an area of 5,569 sq km.
  • The reserve was declared a biosphere reserve in June 1994 by the Government of India.
  • The reserve is home to 94 species of orchids and around 3,000 species of plants.
  • The species of fauna include 29 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 42 species of mammals and 264 species of birds.
  • All these species significantly highlight the biodiversity richness of the reserve.
  • The dominant tree of the reserve is Sal tree.

Concerns regarding reserve

  • The Simlipal forest reserve area witnesses the forest fires so often in the dry weather conditions.
  • As per the Regional Conservator of Forest, there are 399 identified fire points along the fringe areas bordering the forest.
  • All these points remain vulnerable to the wildfire as and when summers arrives.
  • The wild fire is a recurrent annual disaster.
  • However, with the government’s efforts, the calamity has been bought under control.



Reasons of forest fire

  • The forest officials and activists highlight that, there are several man-made factors as well the natural causes that led to the wildfires.
  • The natural causes include lighting, even soaring temperatures, dry conditions, lesser rainfall etc. further, during the summer season, the leaves get dry so much so that even a spark could lead to the raging fire.
  • In the forest areas, the poachers and hunters set fire in the small areas to divert the wild animals which often lead to the widespread wildfires.

Similipal Biosphere Reserve: Odisha

  • Similipal derives its name from ‘Simul’ (silk cotton) tree.
  • It was formally designated a tiger reserve in 1956 and brought under Project Tiger in the year 1973.
  • It was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in June, 1994.
  • It has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reservesince 2009.
  • It is part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes 3 protected areas i.e. Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife sanctuary and Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary.
  • It is situated in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Geographically, it lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat.
  • The biosphere spread over 4,374 sq. km. has 845 sq. km. of core forest (tiger reserve), 2,129 sq km buffer area and 1,400 sq km of transition space.
  • Similipal has 1,076 flowering species and 96 species of orchids. It boasts of having tropical semi-evergreen forests, tropical moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous hill forests, high level sal forests and sprawling meadows.
  • Two tribes, the ErengaKharias and the Mankirdias, inhabit the reserve’s forests and practise traditional agricultural activities (the collection of seeds and timber).
  • Similipal is home to a wide range of wild animals including tigers and elephants, besides 304 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and 62 species of reptiles.

Vulnerability to Forest Fires:

  • Natural causes such as lighting or even soaring temperatures can sometimes result in forest fireshere.
  • Instances of poaching and hunting wherein the poachers set a small patch of forest on fire to divert the wild animals, can lead to forest fires.
  • Forecasting fire-prone days and including community members to mitigate incidents of fire, creating fire lines, clearing sites of dried biomass, and crackdown on poachers.
  • The forest fire lines which are strips kept clear of vegetation, could help break the forest into compartments to prevent fires from spreading.



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