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Forests - The Lungs of Planet
(From the desk of 'Sanskar Sanskriti Manch')
Jamwal Mahadeep Singh8/21/2018 11:07:40 PM
Forests have long been a subject of interest and a topic of discussion - and it's no wonder; they represent life, growth, peace, and nature. To a man nation owes most for what has been accomplished as regards the preservation of the natural resources of our country. Without natural resources life is impossible. From birth to death, natural resources, transformed for human use, feed, clothes, shelter and transport. Upon them we depend for every material necessity, comfort, convenience, and protection in our lives. Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. What an irony it is that these living beings whose shade we sit in, whose fruit we eat, whose limbs we climb, whose roots we water, to whom most of us rarely give a second thought, are so poorly understood. We need to come, as soon as possible, to a profound understanding and appreciation for the trees and forests and the vital role they play. They are among our best allies in the uncertain future. Simply we can arrive at, that the death of the forests is the end of our life.
Forests play a critical role in provisioning of economically important aspects such as: climate, carbon, oxygen, water, non-timber forest produce to millions of people. Forests are the lungs of our land purifying the air and gives fresh strength to the people. These are the world's air conditioning system - the lungs of the planet - and we are on the verge of switching it off. Till yesterday the axe and saw were insanely busy in destruction of trees. It contributed in consuming our forests three times faster than they are being reproduced. Some of the richest timber lands have already been destroyed, and not replaced, and other vast areas are on the verge of destruction. Yet forest unlike mines, can be so handled as to yield the best results of use without exhaustion, just like green fields. The planned and orderly development and conservation of our natural resources is the first duty of every citizen. It is the only form of insurance that will certainly protect us against disasters. Forest protection which is the preservation or improvement of a forest, threatened or affected by natural or manmade causes is the utmost requirement for our survival. Forests and trees make significant direct contributions to the nutrition of poor and animal fodder for households in rural communities. It will not be out of context to say that human beings are parasites on forests. Alternate measures are required to be substituted for the forest products as these communities depend upon.
The forest is an effective agent in the prevention of soil erosion and in feeding the springs and rivers. Forests are hugely important for life on earth. This is because it serves as an ecosystem and sustains life for animals and birds also. It also does a lot of good to the atmosphere in climate control, as well as, supplying oxygen for human sustenance.
Deforestation is one of major contributors to climate change besides causing significant loss of biodiversity. When we analyze main causes of deforestation, we have linkage to two factors: one caused by human population and other by natural calamities. The aspects related to human population are: population growth , need of land for residency and industrialization, farming activities, construction of dams, need of wood for human requirements and also as raw material for certain wooden based industries as main one. On natural aspects, the harbinger of destruction are forest fires, erosion by heavy rains much affected the catchment area as large contributor. The forest fires have both natural as well as human involvement. As seedlings totally destroyed in these wild fires, hence regeneration of forest trees become remote. A new study suggests hotter climates resulting from global warming may prevent forests from regenerating after wildfires. Some past back we have seen contractors (forest lessees) felling and lumbering the forests that used to attack the forests strangely like war. They attacked the forest as if it were an enemy to be pushed back, driven into hills, broken into patches and wiped out. Many operators thought that they were not only making lumbers but liberating the land from the trees. This act took us to deforestation that has a negative impact on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species and animals. Eighty percent of Earth's land animals and plants live in forests. Deforestation also drives climate change. The disruption to forests leads to more extreme temperature swings that can be harmful to plants and animals. The forests play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Lesser the trees mean larger amount of green house gases entering the atmosphere leading to global warming. The cutting that does occur should be balanced by planting young trees to replace older trees felled. The number of new tree plantations is boasted on large pitch and apart from department, number of non -governmental organizations, social organizations and educational institutions seems to be on fore front but we failed to understand the outcome of this plantation which is in Crores of numbers every year, we observe barren lands and their increasing numbers. Reversing deforestation is complicated; planting a tree is simple. We plant trees not for ourself but for our next generations. Forest ecology is a delicate one. If the forest perishes, its fauna may go with it.
The aspect of encroachment of forest land is another important aspect concerning forests. The encroachment of forest land every time is admitted by every government. In 2013, it admitted encroachment of 133.60 square kilometers in the state. The present situation admitted by government speaks that till April 2015 out of total 12,919 hectare of forest land, 9274.12 hectare in Jammu province and 3644.88 hectare in Kashmir province encroached in the state. In Kashmir valley large chunk of forest land have either been converted into colonies or into orchards. The maximum land encroached in Jammu province is utilized for establishing colonies and multi-storey buildings. The process of retrieving the encroached land speaks of eye wash only as retrieved land is in double digit against thousands of hectares encroached. From time to time the involvement of ministers, politicians, senior police officials, bureaucrats, muscle men and contractors had been surfacing in encroachments of forest land and it is the main reason of eyewash exercise of retrieving encroached land. If we have to speak honestly we find that unchecked encroachment is on higher side and this is never possible without the connivance of the authorities on the matter. The registration of FIRs in various police stations and in vigilance organization moving in snails speed is the eye opener. It will not be justified to part without quoting the feelings about trees of Hermann Karl Hesse, German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter that "For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves ---. Nothing is holier; nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering.
I conclude the write up with a message from 'Sanskar Sanskriti Manch', while there is no one solution to the world's ecological problems; it is a time tested fact that the simplest and the most effective solution are to just grow trees. For, every tree grown not only contributes directly to the local environment, but also has a deep cascading effect of regeneration and propagation of the entire ecological processes. So one can actually accomplish something as lofty and Herculean as 'saving the planet', simply by growing trees - lots and lots of them. This is one of the missions on agenda of the 'Sanskar Sanskriti Manch'. By partnering with the Mission, you will join a group of other well-respected members and civil societies in chain link who make a difference through tree-planting.
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