History and Evolution:
The Forest Department in Odisha came into existence during pre-independence period since 1883-84, when Odisha was a part of Bengal. A solitary division was there namely, Odisha Division amongst 10 Divisions comprising the whole of Bengal, Bihar & Odisha under the charge of one Conservator of Forests with headquarters at Darjeeling. Sometime in past, certain forest blocks of Angul were declared as Reserved Forests under section 19 of Indian Forest Act, 1882. Odisha Forest Division was bifurcated into two divisions - Angul and Puri in the year 1912. Later on Sambalpur division was created. This three division had a total area of 741 sq. miles of Reserved Forests and 1069 sq. miles of protected forests.
On 1 April 1936, Odisha emerged as a new state of India; and a new Forest Department was formed under the charge of a Conservator of Forests. The Madras Presidency, Central Provinces as well as old Bihar and Odisha contributed equally to areas of forests and the total area of reserved forests and demarcated forest stood at 1401 and 583 sq. miles respectively. The Ganjam and Parlakhemundi were transferred from Madras Presidency to Odisha.
The systematic forest management started in Mayurbhanj as far back as 1897 whereas forest management believed to have begun in other estates in 1910. The Chief Forest Advisor of Eastern States was advising the states on Forest Administration except Mayurbhanj. Revered Dr. M. Mooney, IFS, remained over 20 years to look after the demarcation and survey of forest areas when the merger took place. With merger of states on first January 1948, reorganization of the department was found necessary. 22 territorial divisions along with 2 non-territorial divisions namely Working Plan Divisions. While Working Plans divisions remained under direct charge of the Chief Conservator of Forests, territorial divisions were constituted in to 3 territorial circles each under the charge of a Conservator of Forests for administration and technical supervision.
Aims & Objectives :
The present mandate of the Odisha Forest Department is defined by the 1988 National Forest Policy. The primary objectives are:
- Maintenance of environmental stability through preservation; and restoration of the ecological balances where serious depletion of the forests happen.
- Conserving the natural heritage of the state by preserving the remaining natural forests.
- Increasing sustainability & the forest/tree cover in the State through massive afforestation and social forestry programme.
- Meeting the requirement of fuel wood, fodder, minor forest produce and small timber of the rural and tribal populations.
- Creating a massive people's participation movement with the involvement of women.
- Encouraging efficient utilization of forest produces and maximizing substitution of wood.
- Checking soil erosion and denudation in the catchments areas of rivers, lakes, reservoirs for mitigating floods and droughts.
- Checking the extension of sand dunes in and along the coastal tracts.
Thus, the principal aim of our State policy is to ensure environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance including atmosphere equilibrium, which is vital for sustenance of all life forms - human, animal and plant.