BHUBANESWAR: Want to soak in the sylvan surroundings of Eastern Ghats by the side of serene Mahandi, watching birds in play as you gaze at the magnificent flora of Satkosia from tree-tops? Welcome to Nayagarh’s Badmul where the Forest Department has unveiled the first ever canopy walkway of the State.
Constructed by local communities, ably supported by Mahanadi Wildlife Division, the 120 metre long walkway allows eco-tourists to take in the majestic sights from a height of 25 feet connecting treetops in the riverine forest of Mahanadi.
“This is the first canopy walkway in Odisha, and second in India. The first treetop walk in the country was started at Kali Tiger Reserve in Karnataka in 2017,” said Divisional Forest Officer of Mahanadi Wildlife Division Anshu Pragyan Das. Interestingly, no architect or engineer had idea about its construction and locals designed and constructed the walkway with assistance from forest officials.
“This walk is an innovative way to explore the forest of Eastern Ghats in Satkosia where 332 species of migratory and residential birds are spotted along with a large number of wild animals,” she said.
The canopy walk will, however, be offered as part of a package to those planning night stay at Satkosia Sands Resort, a community-managed nature tourism destination at Badmul nature camp.
“We have packages for eco-tourists planning night stay. This package includes food and various activities such as cycling, trekking and other sports. The canopy walk will also be a part of activities,” she said.
AS the State Government pushes alternative livelihood plans for communities in eco-tourist spots, the project aims to strengthen the forest dependent people. Maintenance of the walkway will also be borne by the local community members as they are the major stakeholders of the project, the DFO said.
Das informed that the Forest department has set up 40 eco-tourism destinations including Badmul in Odisha in the last three years giving direct employment to around 1,000 people of forest dependent communities through such innovative projects.
With awareness and publicity, more and more people are thronging to eco-tourist sites, generating healthy income to the State. Last year, `4.5 crore was generated and this year, about `6 ccrore is expected.