Poba Reserve Forest in Dhemaji: Upgraded to Wildlife Sanctuary

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 27, 2022, 5:08

A reserved forest refers to a protected forest typically acquired and owned by the government. The forest provides a high degree of protection from all activities, such as hunting, poaching, grazing, and the cutting of trees. In India, reserved forests constitute more than half of the total forest area.

Under Section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, reserved forests are defined as the forests that are declared to be reserved by the State Government under the Act or under any other State Act.

Unlike wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, which the Government of India governs, the respective state governments protect reserved forests. Some examples of reserved forests in India include Hanumasagara reserved forest in Karnataka, Attappadi reserved forest in Kerala, and Palani Hills Forest Conservation Area in Tamil Nadu.

All About the Poba Reserved Forest

The Poba reserved forest is located in a critically vulnerable geographic area under the Jonai subdivision of the Dhemaji district in Assam. The forest was created in 1924 and covers an area of 10,221 hectares. A rich rain forest in Northeast India, the abundance of flora and fauna has made Poba a biodiversity hotspot.

The forest receives 3600 mm to 4000 mm of rainfall, with the highest temperature in the area being recorded as 35°C in summer and the lowest as 7.0°C in winter. The foothills of Arunachal Pradesh Himalayas lie to the north of the reserved forest, and towards east and south are the confluence of Rivers Siang, Dibang, and Lohit. The Poba reserved forest is also considered a vital elephant corridor that links the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh and Dibru Saikhowa National Park.

This forest is home to many big cat species like leopards, elephants, leopards, jungle cats, squirrels, slow loris, Assamese macaque, rhesus macaque, etc., and more than 200 species of birds, some of which are parrots, black-necked storks, large whistling teals, etc. 

Threats to the Poba Reserved Forest

The Poba reserved forest is under serious threat from anthropogenic activities and natural calamities like flood erosion caused by the Siang river. The territorial forest in the subdivision has also been affected by a growing requirement of timber for construction-related activities, causing depletion of forest resources and ecological imbalance in the area.

In 2020, over one lakh people of 358 villages in the Dhemaji district were affected by floods, and 32,977 hectares of cropland were also damaged. In addition, 859 people were provided shelter in seven relief camps set up in the district.

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FAQs about Poba Reserved Forest

  • What is the current status of the Poba reserved forest?

Currently, the Poba reserved forest remains as a reserved forest. On July 14, 2020, the Chief Minister of Assam announced that Poba would be upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary due to the severe flood erosion. However, as of date, no progress has been made. 

  • Where is the Poba reserved forest located?

The Poba reserved forest is located in a critically vulnerable geographic area under the Jonai subdivision of the Dhemaji district in Assam. 

  • Are reserved forests and protected forests different?

While similar in their objectives, reserved forests and protected forests have certain key differences. Reserved forests do not allow activities like grazing, haunting, etc. unless permission is specifically granted for said activities. In the case of protected forests, these activities are permitted unless explicitly banned. Reserved forests in India enjoy a much higher degree of security than protected forests.