Important Bird Areas Celebration Day 2008
    Place : Village Arjunapur District Nayagarh, Orissa

    4th October 2008

    With fresh morning breeze myself and my fellow Wild Orissa colleague Mr. Satya Brata Mishra reached Arujunapur village sharp at 6 a.m. Mr Nanda Kishore. Bhujabal, Governor Tangi Regional Chapter of Wild Orissa joined us.

    We had chosen Arjunapur as our site for the IBA Day 2008 celebrations. At Arjunapur (12 k.m from Tangi), we were touched to notice the enthusiasm among the entire school staff in preservation of natural resources. Teachers motivate students in planting and protect trees. Initiatives are taken well care of to create new forests.

    Some eminent local personalities and village committee members join the IBA 2008 Day Celebration meeting on 'Bird Conservation' along with students and entire school staff. The main aim of the meeting was to sensitize and motivate the locals on the importance to upkeep birds and the contribution of birds towards the ecological system. A discussion on Resident and Migratory birds held along with a bird watching session to make students aware of various species of birds.

    Twenty years ago, Dhani Forest in Orissa State was badly degraded. Commercial harvesters had removed much of the forest canopy; local residents had cleared slopes for crops, gathered fuelwood relentlessly, and allowed cattle to graze the forest floor heavily. Today, this mixed deciduous forest is reborn, thanks to a five-village effort to ensure its survival. These villages have become leaders in a trend toward community forest management that is spreading across India.The forests of On the 10th of September 1987, Dhani South Paancha Mouza Jungle Suraksha Samiti, the forest committee of the five villages, was formed. The committee discussed extensively the various problems relating to the forest and their causative factors. Parts of Dhani R.F. is being protected by “Dhani South Panch Mouja Jungle Suraksha Samiti” comprising of five villages viz. Barapalli, Arjunpur, Balarampur, Kiyapalla and Panaspur. The five villages are involved in the protection of approximately 839.75 hectares of compartment 5 & 6 of Dhani R.F. Dhani R.F. has dry type mixed forest. Dhani also has some almost pure patches of bamboo. Even though the Working plan classifies this forest as scrub forest in degraded condition, very good regeneration has come up due to active protection by villagers.

    The 2,200 ha Dhani Forest is a primary source of food, fuel, building materials, fibers, and medicines for local people. Their dependence makes Dhani both extremely vulnerable to overuse and critical to protect. Dhani’s restoration and protection require collective decision making among the five villages who crafted the forest’s protection plan, plus the cooperation of other neighboring villages who might infringe on this open-access forest. External agencies have contributed some technical expertise, but more scientific analysis to complement local management is needed—guidance and research that are beyond the resources of the Dhani community.

    The inhabitants of the five (5) villages have been sensitized towards wildlife conservation by Wild Orissa, an organisation for conservation of nature and wildlife. Wild Orissa has had periodical interactions with the locals since 1997.During 1998, a Sambar fawn was rescued from the Dhani forests and handed over to the Khurda Forest Division officials, due to the efforts of Wild Orissa. Subsequently during the years 1998, 2000 & 2002 tiger and leopard enumeration exercises in Angul, Athamallik, Satkosia, Keonjhar, etc. forests in which Wild Orissa had associated with the state wildlife wing of Orissa, it had taken along members from the Dhani South Paancha Mousa Jungle Surakshya Samiti. The forests of Dhani and Berbera have also been covered by the members of Wild Orissa during the tiger/leopard/elephant enumeration exercises since 2000. Wild Orissa has organized events here in association with the Khurda Forest Division during 2002 and 2004 on need for conservation of wildlife and forests. Wild Orissa has been assessing the presence of wild fauna in these forests from time to time. The impact, beneficial and otherwise, of forest protection undertaken in Dhani on wildlife is yet to be ascertained. In India such initiatives to ascertain the impact of community based forest protection on wildlife and wildlife conservation is seldom seen. The issue of conservation of birds and their habitat is of crucial importance. It was with these avowed objectives that we had chosen village Arjunapur for this year’s IBA Day celebrations.