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Deep percolation pits in Odisha forests harmful for local flora and fauna

  • Published
    18th Apr, 2022
Context

According to Environment Conservationists, The water percolation pits dug in forest areas by Odisha’s forest department in summer may be harmful for the local flora and fauna.

  • These pits were dug for moisture augmentation for forest trees.
About
  • New research has been done globally on the ways trees communicate with each other above and below ground.
  • Pits dug at the base of large trees cut off the roots of the trees whereas the subterranean communication is not possible without roots.
  • Trees not as isolated individuals, but as communities bound up in a complex set of ecological relationships, with organisms of the same species, with organisms of different species, and especially, with the soil fungi that help to transmit nutrients to plant roots.
  • In natural forests that have been left undisturbed, there is high diversity of species, the environment is relatively stable, and the forest can persist for very long periods of time.
  • The existing large Sal Trees in the forest of Kerjodi, Odisha having more than 6-7 feet girth has been cut, which would definitely affect tree growth and survival.
  • As forest floor plays an important role towards conservation of fauna, provided the natural geography and ecology (bushes, small growing trees, creepers) remain intact without artificial interference.

Related practices

  • The pits are dug for the temperate grassland and forests for extensive restoration efforts.
  • Reintroduction of locally extinct soil-foraging and burrowing animals has been suggested as a means to restore soil function in these ecosystems.
  • This soil regeneration and moisture retention process was started in Europe. It highlights the significance of Burrowing animals in forest.

Harmful impacts of Pits

  • The pits are dug beside trees, and so, the roots of the tree itself, along with roots of other vegetation are severed.
  • This disrupts the intake of nutrients and water to the tree and other local flora
  • Large mammals like elephants, deer, bisons, and even cattle can easily twist their legs and break bones if they accidentally fall inside such artificial pits (18 inches deep) while moving on an otherwise level and unbroken flat forest floor.
  • Herbivores like deer or barking deer or wild boar are at a greater risk of breaking legs if they fall in the pits while being chased by predators.
  • Such pits get obscured by creepers and bushes and remain concealed, posing a danger to unsuspecting humans and cattle who enter the forest and break their legs.
  • The pits also affect natural regeneration of forests since seedlings growing from seeds that have fallen from mother trees are destroyed when such pits are dug.
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