Six houseboats during the Pujas

The government is introducing houseboats across Bangla to attract more tourists. Six would be introduced during the Pujas. Two more would be introduced later.

The new services would be started in Kolkata, Chandannagar, Gajoldoba and Mukutmanipur. Later, houseboat service would be introduced on several other rivers in the districts.

Of the six, two houseboats would be used by the Forest Department. Two are meant for hosting small functions, with each having a capacity for 70 people. The rest two are meant for all tourists, with one to be kept in Gajoldoba and another in Mukutmanipur. In the next phase, a houseboat would be introduced at the Maithon Dam.

Source: Ei Samay

State Govt training to combat poaching

The State Forest Department recently organised training for the people living in areas adjacent to the forests of Jaldapara and Gorumara so that they can help actively in combating poaching. Members of various NGOs also took part in the training.

This is of crucial importance as the people living in such areas know the forest like the back of their hand. Investing them with this responsibility will also make them much more aware of how activities like poaching destroy nature and wildlife.

It may be mentioned in this connection both Jaldapara and Gorumara are famous for being home to the Indian rhinoceros, besides many other animals and birds, and of course a variety of trees and plants.

Source: Khabar 365 Din

Bengal Govt to open 89 more trekking routes in north Bengal

To draw adventure-loving tourists, both from as well as outside Bengal and also from other countries, the State Tourism Department is sanctioning 89 more trekking routes in north Bengal.

To make it convenient, there would be trekkers’ lodges along the routes. The lodges, basically small cottages, would also have facilities for serving food. Additionally, at these lodges, trekking equipments would also be available on hire.

All these lodges would also lead to the creation of employment opportunities, in regions which are socio-economically backward.

Besides in Darjeeling district, quite a few trekking routes have been discovered in the Dooars region. Since many of these routes pass through regions under the State Forest Department, the Tourism Department is holding talks with it to open up the routes as early as possible.

Source: Ei Samay

Bengal Govt to set up tourist hub at Tiger Hill

The State Government is setting up a tourist hub at the ever-popular destination of Tiger Hill in Darjeeling.

Viewing sunrise from Tiger Hill is a very popular activity among all tourists to Darjeeling. Now the Tourism Department is making full-fledged staying arrangements – so that one can view the sunrise from the comfort of the balcony, sipping a hot Darjeeling brew.

Ten cottages would be constructed. The Forest Department would be planting grass and trees around the cottages. After the project comes up, considering the popularity of Tiger Hill, the area would see major socio-economic development.

Source: Sangbad Pratidin

Warehouses for storing & preserving medicinal plants by State Govt

The Forest Department has decided to set up two warehouses – one in north and the other in south Bengal – for storing and preserving medicinal plants. This was announced recently by the State Forest Minister.

The State Government has been giving a lot of stress on the growing of medicinal plants as it has a lot of potential, and there is a big export market as well.

With the warehouses in place, the minister said, the collectors will be able to store their collections and thus give enough time for Government officials to check and make the proper payments.

Collection of plants from forests is not only a difficult job but is also risky and hence, the Government wants to ensure that people get what they really deserve.

Source: Millennium Post

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Weeklong Vanmahotsav begins today in Bengal

The annual seven-day ‘Vanmahotsav’ begins today in Bengal. The theme for this year is ‘Aranya o banyapran/ Prakriti mayer sabuj daan’, which translates to ‘Forests and wildlife/ Mother Nature’s green gifts’. The slogan has been penned by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself.

On this occasion, the State Forest Department will distribute 50 lakh saplings – to State MLAs, and educational and other institutions across Bengal. Fifteen per cent of the 50 lakh would be fruit trees.

All the 294 MLAs of the State will be given 1,000 saplings to plant in their own areas. Schools, colleges, clubs, and various institutions and offices which have space to plant would also be given saplings.

Saplings would be sold from the counter of the Forest Department too. Anyone can go and buy them, at a rate of Rs 2 per sapling. Forest Department products like honey and citronella oil would be sold at a discount of 10 per cent.

As a part of Vanmahotsav, neem trees would be planted across Kolkata – for shade as well as for the fact that they are strong enough to withstand strong winds.

The Forest Department has decided to reward those show good results in taking care of trees, including Forest Department officials and workers – first prize of Rs 1 lakh, second prize of Rs 75,000 and third prize of Rs 50,000.

A special edition of the Forest Department magazine, Banabithi would be published on the occasion of Vanmahotsav.

Source: Aajkaal

Bengal Govt invites applications for second phase of Bonyopran Sathi scheme

The Bengal Government is ready with the second phase of its highly successful scheme, Bonyo22pran Sathi (Honorary Wildlife Volunteer Service Programme), which offers wildlife enthusiasts the opportunity to venture into core areas of forests, especially in north Bengal and the Sundarbans, to get real-life experiences on how to deal with animals and in the process, learn about them through hands-on experience.

Interested participants for this study-cum-adventure programme of the Forest Department have to submit a form, the last date for which is June 30.

Those who will go into the forests will go as conservationists and not merely as tourists, said the Forest Minister while announcing the dates and other details. He said that this is one-of-a-kind scheme in the country.

After the completion of the programme, the enthusiasts will be expected to spread the message of wildlife protection and environmental conservation in their localities.

As part of the programme, visitors will stay with forest guards in camps, which will also give them the experience of keeping guard in a forest. Before a tour starts, the visitors will be provided a day-long training on how to behave if they come close to animals like tigers, elephants, leopards, deer, etc. during their adventure. A team will be accompanied by two Forest Department officials, who will be experts in handling wild animals.

The first phase drew applications from a lot of enthusiasts, and so has the second phase. Applications have already come from a diverse range of people like school teachers, professors, retired Army personnel and businessmen.

There are six national parks and 15 wildlife sanctuaries in Bengal.

Click here to download the form and details about the scheme.

Source: Aajkaal

Parts of forests in Dooars to remain open for tourists during monsoon

Much to the delight of forest lovers, the State Forest Department, for the first time, has decided to keep selective portions of various forests in northern Bengal open for tourists during the monsoon season, that is, from mid-June to mid-September.

Usually, the entire forest areas remain closed for tourists from June 16 to September 15. On demand from many tour operators, resort owners and transport operators, who have in turn listened to requests by tourists, the department has decided to keep certain areas open.

There is something special about the natural beauty of forests during the rainy season and many tourists are keen to witness this. The green of the forests acquires a special glow during this time of the year.

Kalipur Jungle Camp, Dhupjhora Eco Tourism Camp under Gorumara National Park, Panjora Jungle Camp, Murti Jungle Camp, Hornbill Jungle Camp and Chukchuki Watchtower, which are also located in close proximity of Gorumara, will be kept open, including the route in Chapramari forest from the entrance gate to the watchtower.

The Dakshin Khayerbari Tiger Rescue Centre and Mendabari Jungle Camp under Jaldapara National Park and areas like Sikiajhora Eco Tourism Centre, Poro Eco Park, Buxa Fort, Jayanti, etc. under Buxa forest will also remain open for tourists.

It may be mentioned that the season from June to September is also the mating season for many animals. Hence, the department would ensure that no disturbance is created for the animals. Therefore, no jeep safari or elephant safari will be allowed inside the forests.

A number of species of animals like tigers, rhinoceros and elephants make their habitat in the forests of the Dooars. Other animals include various types of deer, bison, birds and reptiles.

Source: Millennium Post

Bengal Govt employing GPS & GIS to create a comprehensive map of the Sundarbans

The Bengal Government has started using GPS and GIS to create real-time interactive maps of the Sundarbans region. These technologies would help keep a ‘smart’ eye on the entire biosphere – forest cover, land use, illegal activities, etc.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based radio navigation system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver while geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present spatial or geographic data. GIS accuracy depends upon source data, and it is here that the accuracy of GPS comes into use.

The surveillance system implemented by the Forest Department uses GPS to capture the data and GIS tools (softwares) to analyse that data. The information being collected, which will be on a continuous basis, is helping the Government to keep track of detailed data on forest cover (number and types of trees, their exact locations, even information on trees cut down) and human habitation, nature of an area, locations of coves and bays, etc. Importantly too, all data would be updated on a real-time basis.

The Forest Department officials are using these data along with the existing ground maps to create a comprehensive database of the region. This method of data compilation would eventually be used to cover the whole of Bengal.

The Sundarbans forest in Bengal comprises of the Matla, Raidighi, Ramganga, Namkhana, Bakkhali and Bhagabatpur forest ranges. The mangrove cover comprises of 77,243 hectares and the wildlife sanctuary, 60,000 hectares. Eco-tourism is permitted on an area comprising of a little more than 27,000 hectares.

The data is also being made available for use by other departments. According to the Chief Conservator of Forests, Bengal, who is overseeing the whole project, the data would be a big help for departments like Tourism and Land and Land Reforms.


Forest Dept count paints a bright picture of the state of tigers in Bengal

The Forest Department of the Bengal Government has painted a bright picture of the state of tigers: camera traps have photographed 84 adult tigers over the past several months across the 2,800 square kilometre (sq km) of the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans.
According to a senior official of the department, the camera trap technique is more reliable than the traditional methods of counting like scanning pug marks or looking for scats.

This number is eight more than that pegged by the 2014 Central Government-mandated study jointly conducted by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

The number is encouraging. If sub-adults and cubs are included, according to tiger experts, the number could be as high as 103. At least 50 of the tigers caught on the camera traps are likely to be males.

The all-weather camera traps with night vision, of which there are 120 pairs, had been set up across the Sunderbans. Several hundred photographs taken by the cameras were studied and the tigers identified by their stripes to arrive at the current number.


রাজ্যে বাঘের সংখ্যা বেড়েছে, বলছে বন দপ্তরের সমীক্ষা

রাজ্যে বাঘের সংখ্যা বেড়েছে। এমনটাই বলছে বনদপ্তরের সাম্প্রতিক এক সমীক্ষায়। ২৮০০ বর্গ কিঃ মিঃ বিস্তৃত সুন্দরবনের ম্যানগ্রোভ অরন্যে ক্যামেরা ট্র্যাপ প্রযুক্তির মাধ্যমে গত কয়েক মাস ধরে সমীক্ষা চালিয়ে ধরা পড়েছে ৮৪টি বাঘ। কেন্দ্রীয় সরকার ২০১৪ সালে সুন্দরবনে যে গণনা চালিয়েছিল, তার থেকে বাঘের সংখ্যা বেড়েছে আটটি।

এক আধিকারিকের বক্তব্য অনুযায়ী, চিরাচরিত মল পরীক্ষা বা পায়ের ছাপের মাধ্যমে সমীক্ষার তুলনায় এই ক্যামেরা ট্র্যাপ পদ্ধতি অনেকটাই আধুনিক ও বিজ্ঞানসম্মত।

এই সংখ্যা খুবই আশাপ্রদ। অপ্রাপ্তবয়স্ক এবং শিশুবাঘকেও গণনায় ধরা হলে মোট বাঘের সংখ্যা ১০৩ ছাড়িয়ে যাবে। ক্যামেরায় যতগুলো বাঘ ধরা পড়েছে তাদের মধ্যে অন্তত ৫০টি বাঘই পুরুষ।

সুন্দরবন জুড়ে ১২০ জোড়া নাইট-ভিশন, অল অয়েদার ক্যামেরা সেট করা হয়েছিল। ক্যামেরাগুলিতে যে কয়েক হাজার ছবি ধরা পড়েছে সেখানে বাঘের গায়ের ছোপ দেখেই এই সংখ্যা পাওয়া গেছে।

Source: The Telegraph