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Sansad TV: Nature And You- Saving FOREST, Why the Urgency?

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Introduction:

Forests are referred to as the lungs of the Earth. These absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen into the atmosphere which we take in while breathing and later it is used for respiration and other processes by our body. The importance of forests cannot be underestimated. We depend on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.They play a vital role in maintaining the clouds and in turn the rainfall pattern, humidity, climate stability, and air quality.

Economic and Social Benefits:

  • More forests mean more water that benefits farmers and future generations.
  • According to Rabindranath Tagore, life in forest is the highest form of cultural evolution.
  • Trees are able to store carbon for a long time and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is one of the ways of mitigating climate change.
  • Tree roots are key allies in heavy rain. They help the ground absorb more of a flash flood, reducing soil loss and property damage by slowing the flow. Forests provide a wealth of natural medicines.
  • They contribute to the overall economy – through employment, processing and trade of forest products and energy
  • Benefits from Recreational, aesthetic, cognitive and spiritual activities.

Forest Decline 

  • Though some states has the highest 93 per cent forest cover, many north eastern states have experienced decline in green cover.
  • The problem of degraded soil in India’s forest lands increases the probability of forest fires and depletion of groundwater resources.
  • Poor soil quality diminishes a forest’s ability to act as a carbon sink.

Challenges to protect Forests in India 

  • Due to the rising population there is enormous pressure on forest land for extraction of forest based resources and encroachment for extension of agriculture.
  • The rising conflicts between conserving forests and diversion for developmental projects.
  • Forest fires caused both due to natural as well as man-made factors.
  • Large tracts of forest cover suffer from plant diseases, insects and pests which leads to considerable loss of forest wealth.

Key Facts 

  • Protection of forests is done through implementation of Forest Conservation Act (1980) and through establishment of protected areas.
  • The International Day of Forests is observed every year on March 21 to celebrate and raise awareness on the importance of forests and trees.

Green India Mission 

  • It is one of the eight Missions under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It was launched in 2014.
  • It is aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s diminishing forest cover and responding to climate change by a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures
  • Objective is increasing the forest and tree cover by 5 million ha, as well as increasing the quality of the existing forest and tree cover in another 5 million ha in 10 years.
  • Challenges
    • The climate change directly impacts the survival of planted saplings.
    • The extension of dry areas and desertification.

Way Forward 

  • Need for participatory models of afforestation in which the local knowledge helps to regenerate and manage the forest resources.
  • The protection of natural ecosystems in catchment areas should be a vital national goal, given the challenges of failing freshwater systems facing the nation at present.
  • Review the curriculum of the Indian Forest Service meeting the present situations and challenges.
  • Green Credits intervention for afforestation and sustainable agro-forestry. Hence poverty alleviation for communities involved in practicing sustainable agro-forestry