Port Blair: We are all aware about the increasing problem of deforestation in India - across rural and urban areas. According to the Forest Survey of India (FSI) survey - over the last 30 years, nearly two-third of the forests the size of Haryana have been lost to encroachments (15,000 sq km) and 23,716 industrial projects (14,000 sq km). The total forest and tree cover is spread across 802,088 square km, which is 24.39 percent of the geographical area of the country.
According to the Indian forest department, for every tree fallen, ten tree saplings should be planted to make up for its loss. But this practice is rarely followed. We all know that, Forests help us maintain ecological balance and reduce carbon footprints. However, hectares of forests are cut down or burnt every millisecond. Unimaginable, isn't it? Can we even exist in a world without trees and forests?
Background: Celebrating the importance of tree, Van Mahotsav was initiated in the year 1950 to celebrate the importance of growing and saving our forests and create awareness about the ill effects of deforestation. It is an annual tree planting festival in the month of July. During this festival thousand of trees are planted all over India. It was started by K. M. Munshi, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Food at that time to create awareness and the importance of the conservation of forests and planting of new trees.
The name Van Mahotsava means 'the festival of trees'. It began after the July 1947 tree planting drive in Delhi heralded by national leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru participated. The festival was simultaneously celebrated in a number of states in India. Since then, thousands of saplings of diverse species are planted with energetic participation of the locals and various agencies like the forest department.
Other benefits of tree planting: To increase production of fruits, which could be added to the potential food resources of the country. *Help create shelter-belts around agricultural fields to increase their productivity, *Provide fodder leaves for cattle to relieve intensity of grazing over reserved forests, *Boost soil conservation and prevent further deterioration of soil fertility.
No doubt, Governments, non-profit organizations are working hard to fight deforestation and increase awareness. But to create a real impact, we all have to do our part.
Plant more Trees: Encourage your friends in your community to plant a tree and help keep your local forest safe (If you have one in your area). Every patch of green is worth saving.
Put pressure on companies that are destroying forests to manufacture their products by not buying from them. Support brands with zero deforestation policies and environment friendly products and encourage people to do the same. Be aware and ask how the products you buy are being made. Go green. Practice the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to lower the need for more raw materials from Trees.
Fast Forest Facts: 13 million hectares of forest have been converted for other uses or destroyed by natural causes. Up to 28,000 species can go extinct in the next quarter century due to deforestation. By the year 2030, we might only have 10% of Rainforests left and it can all disappear in a hundred years, 10% of the world's forests are now protected areas. This is roughly the size of India. Cures for diseases have been found in plants and the raw materials come from our tropical rain forest.
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