Forests are not just dense groups of trees but the golden assets of a nation
Deforestation refers to the cutting of different tree species on a large scale. Deforestation leads to soil erosion, flash floods, the risk of high-intensity natural calamities, and decrease in the concentration of oxygen level in the atmosphere and an increase in carbon dioxide, which causes an increase in temperature during summers. In fact, forests play a necessary role in balancing natural phenomena. It includes providing us with oxygen, which is necessary for the survival of life on this earth and there is no alternative to it. I agree that in our system every subject is important and has an eminent influence on our society like economics, education, political science, mathematics, history and all the remaining ones. But one thing is true and has been experienced by the experts – to effectively address environment-related issues, we need scientific experts. They will be able to convince people about the urgent need to protect forests. People are destroying this national asset for petty gains. In our society there are selfish elements that are damaging, destroying and smuggling forest assets for their personal gains. The fact is that forests are not just dense groups of trees. Forests are the golden assets of the nation.
Forests are the real assets of our country. They are vital for the survival of mankind. This is why forests are far more important than gold or diamonds. We can survive without gold and diamonds but we can’t survive without forests. The state plays an immense role in protecting and maintaining the environmental balance. Government administration or the concerned forest department should come out from their nests and should initiate counseling programmes for the general folk. Advertisement hoardings should be displayed at centrally located places for awareness and feedback.
For the last couple of years, I have visited several forest areas in different districts like Budgam, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Doda, Kishtwar and Teshil Bhaderwah It is very heart-wrenching and painful that in these areas, deforestation has taken place at an alarming level. The forests wear a thin look here. This ruthless act was done by selfish people for the sake of a few currency notes. Our culture celebrates forests for so many centuries; man has been celebrating the wealth of forests. Poets have written about forests. Singers sing about forests. Bollywood movies celebrate forests. Our culture celebrates forests, the ravishing green-tipped leaves, the cylindrical upright trunk of the pine trees, and mesmerising, whispering, roaring buzzing sound of the birds and insects. Forests beautify our motherland and bestow us with exceptional recreational scenes. In India, 7, 12,249 sq. km of the total geographical area is under forests. In Jammu & Kashmir, a 20,230 sq. km geographical area is under forests.
Pir Panjal forest range in Jammu and Kashmir is rich in different kinds of forest trees and plays a pivotal role in terms of the biodiversity of Jammu and Kashmir. This forest range provides shelter to several animal species.
Pir Panjal is a group of mountains in the lesser Himalayas region, running from east-southeast to northwest across the Indian territories of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and then in Pakistan-Occupied J&K (POJK). The average elevation varies from 1400 m to 4100 m. The Himalayas show a gradual elevation towards the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges. Pir Panjal is the largest range of the lesser Himalayas. Near the banks of the Sutlej River, it dissociates itself from the Himalayas and forms a divide between the Beas and Ravi rivers on one side and the Chenab on the other. The renowned Galyat Mountains are also located in this range. The region is connected to the valley of Kashmir via the Mughal road and used to be the historical connection of Kashmir with other states of India.
Forests are used as recreational and research areas. For centuries forests have been used for recreational activities like for summer camps during the scorching heat. Forests are used for trekking purposes, mountaineering purposes, hunting, etc. Forests have been used for research for a long. Scholars pursuing their doctorate degrees in botanical and similar sciences are fond of forests because they offer rich bio-diversity.
Forests help balance the food chains, and food webs, provide shelter to wild animals, and birds, act as the hub of medicinal plants and provide grazing space to the tribal nomads. In some places, people who are living nearby the forests also get several benefits without harming the forests.
Deforestation and the solutions
Deforestation takes place when there is an external involvement that disturbs the forests for means of smuggling, construction purposes, urbanization, timber demand for bridges, buildings, etc. Afforestation is the best alternative for the areas where trees have been cut down. But it takes too long to get into its original shape. So we should be aware of the people who try to harm the forests. Local bodies and the government administration should pay attention to this issue. They must hold public awareness programs regularly and deploy sufficient man force during night hours until our society gets vigilant and educated regarding the importance of the forests and their uses
The writer is Environmental Science lecturer at Government Higher Secondary School, Khellani, Doda