BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has introduced ‘Eco-trails Odisha’, a trekking and hiking programme, to promote eco-tourism and educate tourists on flora and fauna of these destinations.
The programme has been launched by the Forest and Environment department at different eco-tourism destinations in 20 districts. The department has identified around eight to 10 trekking and hiking routes in and around 10 sq km area of all the eco-tourism destinations covering forest areas, valleys, meadows, hills, rivers and streams. The department is now working on documenting local flora and fauna as well as interesting facts about the wildlife in the landscape and local culture.
In order to provide this information to tourists, the department has also launched a training programme for the Eco-Tourism Group (ETG) members, local villagers who have been entrusted with the responsibility of managing the eco-tourism destinations or the nature camps, from January. The training will be given to the members at different wildlife divisions, including Satkosia, Mahanadi, Bhitarkanika and Similpal, and it will continue till March-end.
“Around 500 ETG members, well conversant with local flora and fauna and landscape, will be trained as eco-guides and naturalists for the programme. They will be given training in both Odia and English languages with adequate ICT materials to explain tourists about the landscape during trekking, hiking, birding, boating, safari and other activities in the nature camps,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Mahanadi WL Division-cum-DCF Eco-tourism Anshu Pragyan Das.
Odisha has around 40 eco-tourist sites. Of which, some of the popular eco-tour destinations like Bhitarkanika, Satkosia, Similipal and Debrigarh will be covered under the programme.
The eco-guides will also help tourists in boating which is popular at Chilika, Satkosia, Bichitrapur, Badmul and Bhitarkanika.The trekking programme will open new dimensions in popularising different landscapes of the State, Das added.