In a significant contribution to a longstanding debate, the Anthropological Survey of India has come out with a study showing that four villages in the core zone of Orissa's Similipal Reserve cause very little ecological damage. The debate over relocating the four villages has raged on for over three decades now.
The survey worked out two indices--the disturbance index and the diversity index--to calculate the percentage of damaged trees in these core villages as well as the number of tree species in their vicinity. The indices showed that the forest around Jamuna and Jenabil villages remain undisturbed, while there was only medium disturbance in the forests around Kabatghai and Bakua villages.
"The rich plant diversity in the core area of Similipal forest remains more or less intact in the sacred grove due to religious restrictions.However, forests outside these sacred groves have failed to retain their ecological balance," says Samit Ghoshal who was a part of the survey team.
Ghoshal and his colleagues carried out the survey to understand if human activities are responsible for ecological disturbance in Similipal forest. It is believed that the research will help policy-makers get a clearer understanding of human role in conservation of Similipal's biodiversity.