Save Forests, often referred to as the lungs of the Earth, play a critical role in maintaining the planet’s health. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, which is essential for our survival and various ecological processes. From clean air to wood resources, forests provide us with numerous benefits. They also offer habitat for wildlife, livelihoods for people, watershed protection, soil erosion prevention, and climate change mitigation.
Economic and Social Benefits:
- Forests are a source of freshwater, benefiting farmers and future generations.
- Rabindranath Tagore believed that life in the forest represents the highest form of cultural evolution.
- Trees effectively store carbon, contributing to climate change mitigation.
- Tree roots help prevent flash floods and soil erosion, reducing property damage and preserving natural medicines.
- Forests also boost the economy through employment, forest product processing, and trade, while offering recreational, aesthetic, cognitive, and spiritual value.
- While some states boast a 93% forest cover, many northeastern states in India have witnessed a decline in green cover.
- Degraded soil in India’s forests increases the risk of forest fires and groundwater depletion.
- Poor soil quality hinders forests’ ability to act as carbon sinks.
Challenges to Protect Forests in India:
- Rising population exerts immense pressure on forest land for resource extraction and agricultural expansion.
- Conflicts arise between forest conservation and development projects.
- Forest fires, both natural and man-made, pose a significant threat.
- Pests and diseases cause substantial losses to forest wealth.
- Forest Saving is enforced through the Save Forests Conservation Act (1980) and protected areas.
- International Day of Forests, observed on March 21, raises awareness about the significance of forests and trees.
Green India Mission:
- Launched in 2014, this mission is part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
- Its objective is to protect, restore, and enhance India’s diminishing forest cover while addressing climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures.
- The mission aims to increase forest and tree cover by 5 million hectares and improve the quality of existing cover by 5 million hectares over a decade.
- Climate change directly impacts the survival of planted saplings.
- The expansion of arid areas and desertification pose challenges.
- Promote participatory afforestation models, leveraging local knowledge to regenerate and manage forest resources.
- Prioritize the protection of natural ecosystems in catchment areas to address freshwater system challenges.
- Review the curriculum of the Indian Forest Service to meet current situations and challenges.
- Implement Green Credits interventions for afforestation and sustainable agro-forestry, alleviating poverty for communities involved.