Plants and Deforestation

To start with, let us see a fact. Sunday New York Times – the newspaper of New York City -consists of 150 pages in total. Do you know that this newspaper is equivalent to four trees. Today, under the guise of development a large-scale of deforestation is carried out, the adverse effects of which are being felt.

1. Effects

1. Today, many mountains and forests have become barren owing to deforestation. Medicinal herbs are on the verge of extinction. As a result of this there is no rainfall. –H.H. Parsharam Pande Maharaj

2. The rate of tree plantation does not match with the rate of deforestation. As a result of this there is a huge loss of a valuable natural treasure, which disturbs the balance of biology and environment. Stone mines are causing bare hilltops and less rainfall in the adjoining area.

3. As the woods are cleared on a large scale, wild animals lost their natural habitat and have come seeking shelter in human settlements. Therefore, in Maharashtra there are countless instances of leopards entering human settlements.

2. Importance of forests

1. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from air and release oxygen into it, which is necessary for human life.

2. Many trees help in increasing ozone content of atmosphere.

3. Forests conserve rare species of animals and medicinal herbs.

4. Dense forests maintain a cool atmosphere by absorbing the water vapour.

5. As forests receive heavy rainfall, the excess water gets absorbed in the land and increases underground water level.

6. Roots prevent erosion of the composition of soil and maintain its fertility.

3. What tasks does a tree perform?

1. Oxygen production

2. Controlling air pollution

3. Maintaining fertility of land and preventing erosion of the composition of soil

4. Increasing underground water level and maintaining humidity in air

5. Providing habitat for animals and birds

6. Converting into protein

4. Prevailing situation

1. Cutting one tree results in a loss of about 17 lakh rupees. But the fine charged by a Municipality is hardly of Rs.100 to 1000.

2. About 70-80 percent of the planted trees die. This suggests that although plantation is carried out, the maintenance is poor.

5. Solutions

1. Deforestation should definitely be stopped; but that alone will not suffice. It should be accompanied by plantation of new trees. These new trees should be properly protected and grown. People living in rural areas should plant trees like Neem, Tulsi, and Peepal. If possible, they can domesticate cows. That will make their houses a Health School.

2. Small seedlings be given as a gift on any occasion :Israel planted and maintained numerous trees in the memory of her great revolutionaries, to express love for patriots and respect for scholars. Today, Israel has more than 600 dense forests; more than 11 billion trees. There are sixty lakh trees in Israel’s Martyr Forest. The shade of trees planted and maintained in the memory is spread all over the country. – (Ghanagarjit, September 2008)

6. Forests and forest areas are shrinking
alarmingly in our country despite legislations !

“Area under forests in the country cannot be increased to 33%; instead it is essential to increase the quality of forests from what it is today”, said Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Forests and Environment. Considering the prevalent burden on forests for various reasons, the suggestion made by the Minister appears to be practical. However, it is very essential to preserve the present areas under forests.

1.As per official Government figures, 5 lakh hectares under forests in Maharashtra alone seem to have disappeared after 1997 (As per submissions of the Forest Department to the Supreme Court).

2.Legislation on Conservation of Forests was enacted in the decade of seventies.

As per this legislation, if any land is allotted for development or rehabilitation, an equal area of land (from other areas nearby) should be handed over to the Forest Department.

Penal provisions were made under the Act in the decade of eighties; however, forests have continued to shrink. This is a very serious matter.

3.It is necessary to study the figures maintained by the Government at various levels so as to verify if such an area under forests has indeed shrunk. If this be true, it is essential to carry out a detailed inquiry and publish the reasons.

Reference : Daily ‘Loksatta’, 6.5.2011