Our vale is famous for breath-taking scenery, streams and brooks, snow clad mountains and deep lovely woods. The woods form our innate part. Besides adding to aesthetics, they act as lungs of our motherland.
Consider the vista. The pine forests of Kashmir are unrivalled in exquisiteness. It makes one to ponder how artistically nature has set the lush green pines over inclined decks. At some points rock-strewn mountains can be seen. As if nature has kept them intentionally there, in order to accentuate and appreciate the verdant ones. Blistering streams can be seen gushing through these woodlands. This symbiosis makes an awesome blend.
Besides spectacular views, the woods offer auditory relaxation in the form of psithurism and burbling of alacritous streams. These songs of nature are soothing for one’s soul. To cut a long story short, our valley is the Wonderland for nature loving Alice. But, the irony is that geographically lush green clime is politically blood red.
Recently a study was conducted by the researchers from Indiana University and Illinois State university in which they collected saliva samples of 105 participants. These participants were supposed to be at three different locations-a wilderness setting, an urban park and an indoor exercise club. The team collected the saliva samples in order to test for two telltale signs of stress: the stress hormone cortisol and an enzyme called alpha-amylase. It was found that the participants that were in wilderness area or park (to hike) showed increased levels of joy and had a significant decrease in their cortisol level. This shows how important it is for us, to come out of our cosy rooms and explore the wilderness.
Our culture has been hand in hand with the woods. Going back to past, we come to know that a good deal of saints dwelled in these woods, away from human chaos and in lap of nature. This can be validated by the fact that many ‘Astaans’ are found in these thick dense woods. Now, the question arises what was thing that attracted the saints towards these forests? To find the answer one needs to pack one’s gear and explore the woods.
Realising the need and importance of forest conservation, the patron saint of Kashmir Sheikh Noor ud Din-Noorani(R.A) said “Ann poshi teli yeliwannposhi” meaning ‘Food will last as long as forests last’. He cited such an important message centuries ago even before the concept of ecological balance was born. Forests not only purify air but help in completing the natural water cycle. They keep the atmosphere cool and ensure regular supply of oxygen, which is essential for life.
Forests are the precious gifts of nature that need to preserve. People would value the forest ecosystem services only if they had to a pay a hefty price for it. But since they are free, no one cares. Are we becoming so selfish that we don’t even care for our future generations?
Unfortunately, in our valley there is a rat race of building bigger houses among people, of which these lovely woods fall the prey. Deforestation affects all life, from the land organisms that live in forests to the farmers near them who hope for rainfall. Trees are reliable defence against climate change, as they remove carbon from air. That’s why deforestation is so harmful: not only it removes that defence, it’s estimated that it also causes 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The woods are not only the romantic things to be discussed in poems and quotes, they are scientifically valuable assets. They play the same role as that of lungs. In addition to purifying air and water, they also mitigate draoghts and floods. They provide habitat to wildlife. In addition to it, forests help in maintaining biodiversity and pollinating the crops.
Now the question is, what can we do to save forests?
Experts suggest different methods. Like there should be minimum, regulated and proper cutting of trees. Reforestation and afforestation should be done at massive level. There should be a regular check over forest clearance for agricultural and habitual purposes and many other methods. But, I think that the important thing is that we need to change our mind-set first, because with self-obsessed mind-set we cannot reach anywhere. As long as we only care for our digs and groves nothing is going to change. We have to take care of forests in the same way as we care for our own orchards.
The need of the hour is that we have to create awareness among the people, teach them the working of ecosystem. How forests benefit us in the long run. How cutting down the forests will lead to climate change and ultimately affect our plantation crops.
We must learn to respect nature and, it is only then that it will nurture us.
— The author, a student of physics at Aligarh Muslim University, can be reached at: email@example.com