On 3rd May 2019 a severe cyclonic storm termed ‘FANI’ struck coastal Odisha causing destruction in 14 districts, 52 Urban Local Bodies, 5 lakh households. Severe damage occurred to the vegetation and green cover. An official estimate highlighted uprooting of at least 10 million trees in the impacted area.
Odisha traditionally remains in the eye of the storm very often. Severe to Very Severe to Super Cyclones have caused havoc in Coastal Odisha in last two decades. Due to global climate change, the frequency of occurrence of such cyclones is increasing over the years. Uprooting of trees during such extreme weather events is not only a threat to human life but also causes disruption of electricity and transport facilities.
A rapid green cover damage assessment survey was carried out, after cyclone ‘FANI’, by SPARC Forestry Group, supported by Ex-silviculturist Mr. Bijay Kumar Swain. It was observed that vulnerability of trees to uprooting during cyclone largely depends on the root system, tree height, branch & leaf structure. Whereas, shallow-rooted trees such as Radhachuda, Krushnachuda, Spathoeda & Kadamba were found to be extremely vulnerable to high winds; species like Putranjiva, Baula, Ashoka, Bela, Chenna Phula, Karanja, Patoli, Sunari with medium height, strong branch structure and deep roots are found to have been least impacted during Fani. It was also observed that tall/ medium trees are best avoided near power or telecom lines. The uprooted trees or broken branches invariably damage the nearby power lines, transformers, telephone lines and any other overhead or on-ground utility infrastructure. Similarly, though avenue plantations beautify the city, care is to be taken to avoid planting trees; and opt for ‘Shrubs’ to minimise disruption of transport facility.
Analyzing the impact of Cyclones on the Plant Kingdom, SPARC came up with an advisory on – Plant The Right Tree at The Right Place. Based on nature and location of Plantation sites, SPARC suggested cyclone resilient species, which can withstand high winds or are least disruptive.
It will take a long time to revive the greenery of the cyclone-impacted areas. Revival of the greenery may not be limited to the above suggestions. Some fruit-bearing plants, besides providing food security, have also been found useful in ensuring green cover.