The Forest and Environment Department in the State operates through a number of departmental formations and autonomous bodies. The field formations under the Forestry set up are organized under Forest, Wildlife and Kenduleaf wings. Organizations such as State Pollution Control Board, Chilika Development Authority and Regional Plant Resource Centre function under the Environment Wing of the Department. Odisha Forestry Sector Development Project (OFSDP) is being implemented with the assistance from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), in 14 Forest & Wildlife Divisions (2006-07 to 2014-15). The objective of the Project is to restore degraded forests and improve the income level of villagers by promoting sustainable forest management, including JFM plantation and community/tribal development, thereby improving environment and alleviating poverty.
Department of Forest and Environment undertakes different activities for protection, regeneration and extension of forest and tree cover in the State in participatory mode with involvement of local people for ameliorating the micro climate as well as environmental management and conservation. National Forest Policy 1988, Orissa Forest Sector Vision, 2020 and Joint Forest Management Resolution, 2011 provide guiding principles for forest management in the State.
As per the report of the Forest Survey of India using remote sensing techniques, the forest cover in the State is 48,855 sq. kms of which 7,073 sq. kms is very dense forest. The moderately dense forest extends over 21,394 sq. kms while open forest is over 20,388 sq. kms. The forest cover in the State constitutes 31.38% of the geographical area. Besides this, there exists tree cover outside the forest over 2.85% of the geographical area of the State. Thus the forest and tree cover in the State is 34.23% of the geographical area. The Department is constantly endeavoring to protect the forest area, regenerate the degraded forests and create more forests and tree cover by way of afforestation.
The forests in the State are rich in biodiversity. There are two National parks, 18 Sanctuaries and one Biosphere Reserve in the State. There are two notified and one proposed Tiger Reserves namely Similipal, Satkosia and Sunabeda(proposed).There are three elephant reserves in the State namely Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur and Mahanadi. The protected area for wildlife management constitutes 4.25% of the total geographical area of the State.
The wetland management in the State has received International accreditation. Chilika Ramsar site is the Asia’s largest brakish water lagoon having rich esturine and marine fauna including 152 Irrawady dolphins (as per 2013 Jan, census). About nine lakh migratory birds visit Chilika every year. Gahirmatha Sanctuary attracts more than five lakh Olive Ridley sea turtles every year for nesting during Feb- March