In order to meet the needs of a growing population, deforestation is taking place worldwide. Forests are very important for the entire human community as well as necessary for creating a natural balance in the environment. However, greed of man is leading him to continuously burn or cut trees to procure charcoals, or to make items to be used in various forms, besides obtaining land for farming, residential, or commercial purposes.
The deteriorating situation reflects the selfishness of human beings, as they are cutting down the forests without taking steps toward rejuvenating them by planting new trees. Sadly, deforestation is happening on a faster rate than reforestation. As a result, great damage has been done to natural habitats and biodiversity. Due to the indiscriminate destruction of forests, aridity has increased in the environment. Also, the areas where the trees are getting removed are gradually turning into barren lands.
Deforestation is responsible for a lot of damages such as destruction of the shelters of the animals, drastic increase in temperature, greenhouse gases, melting of ice caps and the glaciers, due to which sea levels are increasing, ozone layer is decreasing, and there is rising incidence of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, floods, droughts, etc.
Solutions to Prevent Deforestation
What can be done to prevent deforestation to save life on the Earth? Following are some ways to save the forest cover:
Managing Forest Wealth
Global efforts are being made to stop or reduce deforestation for many centuries, because for a long time it is known that cutting forests destroys the environment and in some cases it becomes the cause of a country’s downfall. In Tonga, a group of more than 170 islands spread over an area of the South Pacific, the government made appropriate policies to prevent conflicts between short-term benefits that resulted from turning forest into agricultural land and long-term problems it caused. During the 17th and 18th centuries, in Japan, the shoguns evolved a hi-tech system in order to prevent deforestation in the next centuries, and to develop forests again. It was done by using some product other than wood and by effective use of the land being used for agriculture for centuries.
In the sixteenth century, the land owners of Germany also developed silviculture method to deal with the problem of deforestation. However, these policies were limited as they are subject to the environment, such as good rainfall, no dry season, and very young soil (through volcanoes or glaciers). This is because the trees in old and less fertile land develop so gradually that they do not prove to be financially beneficial. Also, there is a danger of burning of crop even before it is mature in regions with very extreme dry weather.
Innovative Methods to Prevent Deforestation
In those areas where “slash-and-burn” process (which is not environmentally sustainable) is adopted, adopting slash-and-char method prevents acute deforestation and the fall in the quality of soil also stops as it alleviates some of the negative ecological implications of traditional slash-and-burn techniques. Thus, the biochar produced is again put into the soil, it is not only a durable carbon sequestration method, but it is also very beneficial in terms of soil amendment. By mixing with biomass, it produces terra preta, the best known soil on the planet. It is the only known soil type that revives the soil.
Rejuvenation of Forests
In many parts of the world, especially in East Asian countries, tree plantation is increasing the area of forest land. In 22 of the world’s 50 countries with largest forest cover; there has been appreciable increase in the area of forests. In Asia, there has been an increase in 1 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2005. Tropical forests in El Salvador increased by 20 percent between 1992 and 2001. Based on these trends, the global forest cover is expected to grow by 10 percent by 2050.
Reforestation in China
In the People’s Republic of China, where massive destruction of forests has been done, the government has asked every capable citizen between the ages of 11 to 60 years, to plant 3 to 5 trees every year or render other forest services equivalent of this. The government claims that at least 1 billion trees have been planted in China since 1982. Now it is not needed, but in China, March 12 is celebrated every year as a Planting Holiday.
In addition, this has led to the introduction of China’s Green Wall of China project, which aims to prevent the expansion of Gobi desert by planting trees. However, after burning of about 75 percent of trees, the project has not been very successful, and regular compensation of carbon through the flexible system (Flexible Mechanisms) would be a better option. Since the 1970s, there has been an increase of 47 million hectares in the forest area in China. There is an increase of approximately 35 billion trees in 4.55 percent of the total land of China. Two decades ago, the forest cover was 12 percent, which is now 16.55 percent.
Reforestation Efforts in the West
In western countries, increasing demand for timber products, which have been produced in a good way, has led to an increase in the forest management and timber utilization by forest land owners and forest industries.
Contribution of Voluntary Organisations in Forest Conservation
The Rainforest Rescue Program of the Arbor Day Foundation is a charity that helps prevent deforestation. The Foundation buys rainforest land from monetary funds and preserves it, before wood companies buy it. This Arbor Day Foundation protects the land from harvesting. It preserves the way of life of the primitive tribes living on the land. Organizations such as Community Forestry International, Nature Conservancy, World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, African Conservation Foundation and Greenpeace also pay attention to the conservation of forest habitats.
In particular, Greenpeace has also made maps of forests, they are still intact and this information has been portrayed on the Internet. The website HowStuffWorks has created a more straightforward thematic map, which represents the amount of forests present right from the human age (8000 years ago). Currently, it also shows the decreased level of forests. This thematic map from the Greenpeace map and HowStuffWorks, thus, mark the amount of plantation, which is necessary for the repair of damage to forests inflicted by humans.
Kyoto Protocol is very significant in terms of controlling deforestation. The Kyoto Protocol and its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) have taken up “Afforestation and Reforestation”. Kyoto Protocol has a significant role to play in measuring and reporting on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forests. Under it, sectoral scope areas of land that had no forest cover since the Nineties could be replanted with commercial or indigenous tree species. The United States too measures and reports on the net greenhouse gas sequestration in forests.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiated improved forest management also known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). It aims at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and mitigating climate change through reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It emphasises on the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
Public Co-operation and Awareness
Public co-operatiom as well as awareness for forest conservation is also essential. For forest conservation, we can take necessary steps such as promoting plants through community forestry in the rainy season, increasing the forest area by planting forests and running publicity and awareness programs for the protection and promotion of forests. The governments should work towards creating forest safety committees in villages and spread awareness and preventing deforestation.
In order to save people from pollution, people need to plant more and more trees along with preserving the forests. If this is not taken into consideration then getting pure air and water will be difficult for all of us.
People must save the forest cover existing on the Earth. Apart from this, we all need to cooperate in the plantation campaign and planting plants. The increasing use of polythene and other non biodegradable substances should be stopped to avoid contamination of environment in the forest.
In 1973, environmentalists Sundar Lal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt started the Chipko movement in mountainous areas in which women of hill areas used to prevent the forest mafia from cutting the trees by hugging trees. Similarly, Appico movement was launched in Karnataka in 1993, under the leadership of Pandurang Hegde, under which there was an active effort to preserve forests.
Steps and Laws for Forest Conservation in India
Forest Survey of India (FSI) was established in 1981 for the protection of forests in India. The FSI is an organization working under the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India. Its primary work is to gather and evaluate the country’s forest wealth through a nationwide survey to measure forest areas. The FSI also organizes project-based specialized training programmes for its personnel on special requests of any organization. Apart from all this, it also has a large collection of data project reports, which is very useful for environmentalists.
The country is facing severe shortage of forests and its adverse environmental impact. The Forest Safety Act 1980 and its amendments were made in 1981 and 1991, so that forests can be preserved. The National Forest Policy came into existence in 1988. The main purpose of creating this is to preserve the ecological balance while protecting the environment. The policy aims at conservation of forests and the implementation of intensive forestry programs across the country.
Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (IFPS) was formulated to save the forests from fire. It was created by combining the forest fire protection and management technique with forest conservation. This scheme has proved to be very beneficial for the North-Eastern States and Sikkim, and it has fulfilled the lack of resources to save forests in these areas. This scheme is 100% centrally sponsored. Its main purpose is to provide infrastructure to the states and Union Territories and save forests from the fire and proper management of it.
The Directorate of Forest Education is under the Ministry of Forest and Environment, and its primary task is training states, forest officials and regional forest officers. Currently, three Central Forest Academies are in existence in the country. These are respectively in Byrnihat (Assam), Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand), as well as in the Rangers College East Forest area in Kurseong (West Bengal). The Government of India is operating Forest Rangers Colleges. However, Directorate of Forest Education has also started the task of training non-forest organizations.
National Afforestation Program (NAP) was started with the aim for ecological restoration, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, environmental development and to check land degradation, deforestation and damage to biodiversity with the help of people active in environmental development.
India is a country of 1.4 billion people, where there is a constant pressure on forests in densely populated areas and people are doing farming on marginal land where the overgrazing of grass is contributing to making the area barren. There is tremendous social-economic pressure on the forests of the country. India has set up a plantation system to prevent soil erosion and desertification along with perimeter fencing and safety to protect agricultural land.
Need to Preserve Wildlife
We have to see our wildlife in the form of wealth. It is only possible to think about their defence, if we not only save the wildlife but also give them an opportunity to flourish. If necessary, we will need to increase their numbers by keeping them in the proper environment.
Sanctuaries, wildlife parks, national parks etc. are some of the steps that are being taken at national and international levels. In India, ‘Environment Protection Act’, ‘Forest Conservation Act’, ‘National Wildlife Action Plan’, ‘Tiger Project’, ‘National Park and Sanctuary’, ‘Biosphere Reserve Program’ etc. are being run to protect forests and wildlife.
Due to these schemes, some species have been saved from going extinct. These include tiger, babbar lion, one horned rhinoceros, elephants, crocodile etc. Not only this, many types of plants and trees have also started to get a new life. Now it is necessary to maintain the life of all of them.
Measures to Protect Wildlife in India
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken several measures to protect and conserve wildlife in the country. Those measures are as follows: –
- Under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, legal protection has been provided against the hunting of wildlife including their exploitation and commercial exploitation. According to the status of protection and danger, wild animals have been kept in different schedules of the law. Peacocks are kept in Schedule I of the law, which gives them the highest protection under law.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for the provision of penalties for offenses related to violation of its provisions. There is also a provision in this law to seize any equipment, vehicle or weapon used for committing crimes against wild animals.
- Under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, protected areas have been created, including national parks, sanctuaries, important wildlife habitats across the country, so that wildlife and their habitats are protected.
- Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been constituted for the control of wildlife and the illegal trade of wild animals and their products.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered to arrest and act against those who commit crimes against wildlife under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- State / UT Governments have been requested to increase patrols in and around protected areas.
- The state’s forest and wildlife departments are being closely monitored by the authorities.
Today, the way environment is getting due to human faults, there is a great need to strictly protect and maintain the forests. Only by doing this, we can save the future of all living organisms.
The world over scientists, all sane people, environmental experts, etc. are emphasising on the need for forest conservation. The governments have also created sanctuaries and reserves to protect wild species, where it is prohibited to pluck even the grass.
Important work like forest conservation cannot be possibly done by observing ‘Tree Plantation’ weeks. For this, there is actually a need to work on the lines of important schemes. That too is necessary not for one or two weeks or months, but for years. Just as it is not enough to give birth to a child, but to make proper arrangements for the baby’s upbringing and care, not simply for two to four years, but till he/she gains maturity, vigilance and caution need to be exercised to grow, and protect forest cover. Only then can the life of the Earth, its environment and the protection of greenery be possible.
Nature provides all necessary resources for us. The need of the hour is to look at the side effects of global climate change. To prevent the emission of greenhouse gases, we should use only the amount of nature we need to meet our mandatory requirements of food, water and air. In this context, it is very necessary to control deforestation for environmental improvement.