The role of forest and its produce in the economy and culture of any country is too obvious to warrant any elucidation. Bankura as a district is fortunate in having extensive forest area and it plays a crucial role in imparting a distinct identity to this district in terms of its forest resources and the cultural fabric of people living in close proximity to the forest areas in the district.
Forest land of this district is 148177 ha. which constitutes 21.5% of total geographical area of the district coverage. Latest land use patterns indicate that cultural wasteland stood at 11703 ha. fallow land, other than current fallow at 11101 ha., Current fallow at 16480 ha. and 36692 ha. of Barren and uncultivable land. This land may be made suitable for taking up forestry/ waste land development.
Bankura district forest is pre dominantly Sal and its associated species and plantation forest of Eucalyptus and Akashmoni. Bankura holds one of the best quality of Sal forest in West Bengal particularly at Radhanagar, Sonamukhi and Patrasayer and the entire Bishnpur sub-divisional jurisdiction. Its flora bio-diversity increased substantially over time.
From the geographical , socioeconomic & environmental consideration, the district offers lot of scope for development of this activity . In view of Govt. supports for development of this sector, long term potential for development through credit may be estimated at 2500 hect. for next 5 years with annual phasing of 500 ha.
The district is covered under the programmes of National Waste Land Development Board. IWDP is being implementation in 7 blocks viz. Indpur, Chhatna, Saltora, Khatra, Hirbundh, G.Ghati and Ranibandh. Various schemes and projects like NREGS,13th Finance Commission, CSS Elephant Project are being implemented to improve the living conditions of the forest fringe area population. Elephant depredation is a very major problem in Bankura in view of very fast growing elephant population and seasonally moving elephant start straying back in Bankura for longer time and the number of residential elephants have also increased significantly. All-out efforts are being made with the help of local forest protection committee to tackle the problem with a human face to mitigate the problem and it is an on-going process.
State Govt. has implemented social forestry project in the district covering roadside, riverside, railway embankment plantation etc. West Bengal forest development corporation, pulpwood development corporation are also working for forest and wasteland development in the district during the past years. Govt. has stressed for biotic plantation distribution of seeding etc. in the district.
Forest of the district is divided into three divisions. On an average of 20% of forests are barren of degraded . Under State and Central sponsored programmes, rejuvenation and or re-plantation are taken to an average of 1500-1600 ha. per year. In coming five years 2000 ha. is also expected to be developed with non-timber forest. However bank credit may flow to the privately owned land only and no private land is categorized as forest land. Development of the activity only on cultivatable Waste Land and Swallow Land is therefore may be feasible through bank credit and long term potentials may be worked out.
Soil of Bankura district can be broadly grouped into three principal types (Groundwater Resources Assessment and Management of the Bankura District, CSME, 1993) viz. (1) Red Soil (2) Alluvial Soil and (3) Laterite Soil. Typical red soil has limited distribution in the south central, south-eastern and south western parts of the district around Bishnupur, Kotulpur and Raipur blocks respectively. They are the red coloured sedentary soil (i.e. those formed from residual parent materials) found mainly on laterites supporting Sal vegetation. They are also found along the margins of small hills bare of vegetation. They are free from CACO3, low in Base Exchange capacity and have a highly unsaturated base. They may be derived from laterites by a process of resilicification by ascending ground water but cannot be grouped either as laterites or laterite soil.
Brown soils from a group within this class which are also sedentary in nature, mainly derived from rocks like sandstone, granite gneiss and schists. The alluvial soils, which have wide distribution in the east-central and southeastern parts of the district, are grouped according to soil association as Damodar-Rajmahal riverine, Damodar flatlands, Damodar highlands etc.
The older alluvial amongst them is unaffected by floods and siltation and show profile development, whereas the younger or newer alluvial, found mostly in the Damodar flatland areas are enriched by silt deposition during floods. Such areas are characterised by high water table, a heavy sub-soil and occurrence of brown concretion at lower depths.
The laterite soils have wide distribution in the south-central to the south western part of the district. Such soils are distinguished from the red soils by the occurrence of ferruginous concretions in a definite layer, whereas in the red soils they are distributed throughout the profile.
According to the textural types, soils of the district can be classified under the following types : (1) Sandy (2) Sandy Loam (3) Loam (4) Sandy Clay Loam (5) Clay Loam (6) Clay.
Clay, clay dominated loam and loamy soils are mostly confident to the flood plains of the Damodar and the Dwarkeswar rivers through sporadic occurrences. This type of occurrences is also seen in other small river valleys. The district as a whole is covered generally by sandy loam.
Soil series association formed mapping units represented by symbol in number 1,2 etc. The mapping units are briefly described below.