CAT Essay: Forests Need For Conservation
Trees are mankinds lifeline. If they are destroyed, there is no way that human beings can survive. From the oxygen that we breathe in, the food that we eat, to the clothes we wear, we owe it all to the trees. Not only this, trees act as purifiers of air and receptacles of our waste products. Trees have great economic value too. We get fuel, fodder, timber, medicines and numerous other valuable products from the trees. It is, therefore, not surprising that trees were given great importance in our culture, our tradition, our mythology and legends. The entire Panchatantra revolves around forests and its inhabitants. Tulsi plant is always found and worshipped in a traditional home. Pipal tree is revered by all. Neem is valuable as an insecticide, germicide and medicine, in the times when there were no coolers or air conditioners people comforted themselves in the cool shades of mango, neem and other trees during summer heat. The survival of entire wild life depends upon the health and well being of our trees and specially our forests.
Today, however, the forests are in danger. Their survival is at stake as man, in his blind pursuit of wealth and power, is bent upon destroying them. The urgent need today is to save our forests from extinction. For sustaining ecological balance, for environmental and other reasons, it is important that at least one third of our land is covered with forests. However, today we have less than 20% area under forests and much of it is degraded forest. Over felling of trees, hindering natural process of pollination and germination and diverting land for other purposes have all taken their toll on forests. So, the need of the hour is to work to save existing forests and help in bringing larger area under forests. The need to conserve forests and upgrade them was recognized decades back by the Indian Government. Subsequently, to promote research in forestry and allied sciences, a Forest Research Institute, and for forest management, an Indian Institute of Forest Management were opened. While Indian Forest Service was organized on an efficient basis by Sir John Strachedy, a new orientation was given to it after independence. The need to involve public was felt and so social forestry scheme was launched. The purpose was to make forestry a mass movement. One tree for every child, Trees for Eco-development and numerous other schemes were launched. To provide financial support, Forest Development Boards were set up. An innovative scheme to involve industries and private parties in afforestation drive was launched under Industrial Plantation. To make use of the waste lands, marginal lands and desert lands, energy plantations, fodder plantations etc. Were attempted. Under DDP, forests were sought to be promoted not only to restore fragile ecological balance but also to provide people with the means of livelihood. Similarly, DPAP was launched with afforestation as its cornerstone.
Despite all such efforts, we find very little tangible result. Forests are still getting cut and degraded and wildlife still being destroyed. Somehow, the awareness that forests are in danger and that we should do something about it has still not reached many of us. And many of us, who know the fact, do not know what to be done about it. Forestry is highly labor intensive primary activity. Unless, people are involved neck deep in the afforestation drive, little progress can be made. Spread of information by mass media, through social workers, in schools and colleges, at work places, all these are required for the drive to become a movement. While most of us know the importance of forests, we take them for granted. Conservation of forests does not mean that they should not be used for economic purposes but should be used efficiently and in a way that does not endanger the ecological balance and does not destroy the home of wild animals. Presently, forests are being used for mainly two purpose fuelwood and timber both involve felling trees.
This can be avoided by either developing alternative sources of energy there are many-solar, biogas etc. alternative means for construction CPWD has banned the use of wood in houses or by growing at least one if not two tree for each tree cut. Secondly, new, better means of using forests should be evolved. Sericulture, mushroom cultivation, bee keeping, horticulture, etc. Are not only viable but also very profitable alternatives. At the same time, forests should be protected as a system. This means that monocultures are avoided and variety of trees suitable to the local environs be grown.
The question today is not whether or not afforestation but how. Our very survival depends upon how successful we are in our mission. Let m think about future. In the greed for short term gains, 4et us not put our very survival at stake. We all have role to play in this movement. If each one of us grows just one healthy and suitable tree in his life time, the problem will be solved. To misquote Armstrong It is a small ask for each one of us but a giant task for the mankind.