TEZPUR, June 24 � The proposal of the Nameri Eco-camp to set up an arboretum and an orchidarium at Sapaloga village at Balipara Reserve Forest near here has been hailed by different sections of the society.
It may be mentioned here that while an arboretum is a place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes, an orchidarium is an orchid garden. At a time when due to various factors, the forest cover is fast thinning down, resulting in either the loss or a struggle for survival for many plant species, both rare and common, this plan will surely boost conservation efforts in this direction.
Sonitpur district covers an area of 5,32,298 hectares and out of this approximately 1,47,843 hectares is covered by forests. However, the project initiators say that the increasing demands for forest wealth have threatened the diverse forest resources and thus there is an urgent need for conservation and propagation of different plant species in their natural habitat. �The project�s aim, by establishing an arboretum and orchidarium, is to give an idea about how to conserve trees, herbs, shrubs, climbers, and orchids etc., found in the forests of Assam and it will cater to the needs of students of schools, colleges, universities, research scholars, medical students, forest enthusiasts as well as the people in general,� said K Bhattacharya, secretary, Assam Bhoreli Angling and Conservation Association (ABACA).
Bhattacharya further said that the project will bring about awareness among the people regarding protection and propagation of orchids, trees, indigenous plants etc., and encourage and impart training to the local people by organising awareness programmes, workshops etc.
The project to be implemented by the 134 infantry battalion (Territorial Army) Ecological, Assam and the Assam Bhoreli Angling and Conservation Association (Nameri Eco -camp) with technical help from the Divisional Forest Officer (Territorial), Sonitpur West division, by employing local people through MNREGA will cover an area of 50 hectares near Sapaloga village in Balipara Reserve Forest. The area was once full of trees but became degraded due to over exploitation, illegal felling and biotic pressure. The area falls under Charduar forest range under Sonitpur West Forest division. The 50-hectare area will be covered under the project in three phases. Bhattacharya further stated that the five-year-long big budget project is estimated to cost Rs138.5 lakh and this will be monitored and evaluated by the Conservator of Forests, Northern Assam Circle and office of the Deputy Commissioner, Sonitpur. He also said that besides bringing awareness among the people with regard to planting and exploitation of trees and orchids, the project will provide employment to the local people round the year and help in providing a place for recreation to the visitors.