Forest and its Importance
Forests are an important component of our environment and are dominated by microorganisms, flowering plants, shrubs, climbers, dense trees and provide a vast habitat for wild animals. Forests also contribute to the economic development of our country. Forests are vital for human life, it is a source for a wide range of renewable natural resource. They provide wood, food, fodder, fibre and medicine.
Forests are major factor of environmental concern. They act as carbon sink, regulate climatic conditions, increase rainfall, reduce global warming, prevent natural hazards like flood and landslides, protect wildlife and also act as catchments for water conservation. They also play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance.
Deforestation and its Effects
Deforestation is the destruction of large area of forests. This happens for many reasons like intensive agriculture, urbanization, construction of dams, roads, buildings and industries, hydroelectric projects, forest fires, construction of mountain and forest roads. It is a threat to the economy, quality of life and future of the environment. India is losing about 1.5 million hectares of forest cover every year.
Effects of Deforestation
Deforestation gives rise to ecological problems like floods, drought, soil erosion, loss of wild life, extinction of species, imbalance of biogeochemical cycles, alteration of climatic conditions and desertification.
Conservation of Forests
India has an area of 752.3 lakh hectare classified as reserved forests and 215.1 lakh hectare as protected forests. The important measures taken for conservation of forests are as follows
Afforestation: Activities for afforestation programme (Van Mahotsav) includes planting and protecting trees with multiple uses which help in restoration of green cover. Destruction of trees should be curtailed.
Social forestry programme: It should be undertaken on a large scale with active participation of the public and utilization of common land to produce firewood, fodder and timber for the benefit of the rural community. This relieves pressure on existing forests and to safeguard future of tribals.
Forest Conservation through Laws: Adopting stringent laws and policies to conserve and protect forests are through National Forest Policy, (1952 and 1988) and Forest Conservation Act, 1980.