Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 364

Ecological History of An Ecosystem Under Pressure:
A Case of Bhitarkanika in Odisha

Subhashree Banerjee



Ecosystem and Livelihood systems are dynamic in nature; their relationship being a product of centuries of synergetic evolution that continues into the current scenario. This historical emergence is shaped by various stakeholders and by the prevalent societal rules and norms. Therefore, in order to understand this “symbiotic” concept and its emergence from an historic point of view, we have focussed on forests and forest dwellers as two inseparable components. This article is based on both primary (oral history) and secondary (archives and books) sources for understanding the changing roles of both the system and how it has evolved over time. By taking a case study (of Bhitarkanika forest), the author tries to put in light the details about the various dynamics of the systems in the process of this change. History tells us that there has been a tremendous mismanagement of resources in Bhitarkanika along with an increase in population. Though the declaration of National Park and restriction on the entry and exist proved to be a boon for conservation purpose, the task of reversing the population pressure on National Park still needs to be addressed.


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