Deforestation: Challenge of the century

When we were kids we were taught the importance of trees and why we should not to cut trees. Trees inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen which in turn is used by us, the human beings, for the survival.


15 years since, I have forgotten this fact and to my knowledge most of my friends too don’t remember it. Is this the reason why we face so many environment related problems these days? The temperature has been rising in mountains, while deserts are receiving snow storms.


Well, to some extent, inappropriate deforestation does cause all this problems. Even a 7th grader would know the ill-effects of deforestation. Even some of the schools ask these kids go and plant trees in their name.


Alas, that’s the extent of our sympathy and love to our mother nature. Over the years, India has seen tremendous rise in deforestation activities by government itself. Although cutting of these trees is essential for economic purposes, one must not forget that it should be done in a sustainable manner. And by sustainable I don’t mean sustainable for next century but sustainable for our coming generations.


Earlier in British times, there were many forestry operations that were applied on these forests. This resulted in huge trees, trees with good trunks and therefore trees that would yield more in economic terms. Those trees remained planted for more than 60 years and were replaced by younger seedlings before being finally cut. These days, the quality of this produce is not good and therefore the department is forced to cut more trees to maintain the supply. And when these trees are finally cut there is no replacement which leaves soil to be loose and by the time next set of seedlings are bought in, the soil looses its qualities of being good enough for the trees resulting in weak produce of trees.


And not just in India, this phenomenon is seen all over the world. Singapore based company Olam has been carrying out such activities all over Africa. It was only due to recession that they had to suspend their operations in Mozambique, something to cheer about in Global Meltdown. It continues to cut trees in China, Russia, and Western Africa and so on.


With Kyoto protocol, emphasis has been laid on reducing the carbon emission. Countries like USA are trying to buy carbon credits by funding forestation projects in development countries. However, one has forgotten that a fifteen year old tree would help us 1/4th of the tree which is 60 years old. The emphasis should have been made on stopping illegal and inappropriate deforestation activities of such companies, rather then countries buying so called “carbon credits” from developing countries.


However, things are improving and even I can’t deny it. With world working towards “Earth-hour”, a phenomenon that knows no concrete result, people are happy to participate in things however minor impact they may have by such tasks. However, if you ask the same people to make a greater impact by not driving their vehicle for one full day and taking only public transport, how many would volunteer for such a thing?

Pradyuman Singh Rawat

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