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Conserving Forests

By: Rukmini Barua Deka

“Here, in each and every village, areas would be demarcated to enable the people to plant saplings on special occasions to be able to live in harmony with nature. The present government at the centre has been stressing on pollution free environment. Due to the availability of abundant natural resources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to make this region an organic hub of the country”, said Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, Assam, inaugurating the state level World Environment Day programme on June 5 at Dibrugarh University.

He urged the people to work for ecological growth and development of this region and to take all possible steps to beautify this region for attracting tourists. He called upon the people to protect and conserve the Brahmaputra and the Barak valley along with its wealth of natural resources. The programme was organised by Forest Department, Assam where Pramila Rani Brahma, Forest and Environment Minister, Assam was also present. Massive tree planting programmes were held on that day all over Assam for maintaining a hygienic environment, contributing to the growth of trees and forests. Sonowal asked the people to enhance the exquisite natural beauty of this land. In India, natural vegetation needs to be conserved and protected with the efforts of the government and the non-government sector and local communities to prevent them from dwindling. Conservationists are at work, trying to protect these areas from illegal encroachments.

Here, trees of tropical evergreen forests remain green all the year round as the climate of this region is warm and wet for most of the year. These are found in areas where the rainfall is more than 200cms. Rosewood, Mahogany, Rubber, Jackwood and Bamboo are the important species. These are found in Western Ghats, Upper parts of Assam and islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar.

The tropical deciduous forests are found in the areas receiving annual rainfall between 75 to 200cms. They are found all over the country excluding some parts of the Deccan Plateau, north eastern region, Western Ghats and eastern coast. They are divided into moist deciduous and dry deciduous forests. The thorn forests are found in the areas receiving rainfall less than 75cms annually. They are found in north western India, interior parts of peninsular India including arid regions of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The tidal forests are found in tidal areas and swamps which are also called mangrove forests. They are particularly evergreen with thick leathery leaves. These forests are found in the deltas of Sundarbans, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. Mangrove or Sundary is a common tree in Sundarbans. Palm, Coconut, Keora and Agar are other important species of tidal forests. Himalayan forests are of various types as per decreasing temperature and increasing heights. Areas up to 1000m altitude looks like tropical forests. Sal and Bamboo are the main species in these areas. Between 1000m and 2000m Oak and Chestnut are the main species. Between 1500m and 3500m Cedar, Silver Fir, Spruce and Deodar are the main species. Alpine forests are found between 3000m and 3800m.

Wetlands comprising swamps, marshes and bogs provide habitats to rich biodiversity. The government of India has established 15 biosphere reserves to preserve the genetic diversity in representative ecosystems. The wildlife sanctuaries of India harbor more than 15,000 varieties of plants besides animals, birds, insects, reptiles etc. The national parks have been established for the maintenance of the rich biodiversity.

Forests form a renewable resource- their products are also recyclable and biodegradable and there have been notable advances in processing efficiency from using wood residues to recycling wood and paper products. The global demand for wood and fiber is likely to be doubled by 2030 which will have to be met with only a 40% growth in timber harvesting. Much of the increase in demand will be met by planted forests which have also shown marked increases in productivity. Achieving breakthrough in resource efficiency, the forest sector would seem a perfect example of the Green Economy in action. UNEP’s report -A Transition to a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication underlines that such a transition is not only possible to developing nations as it is to the developed ones.

Countries around the world are adopting alternative and clean sources of energy, paving ways for going green. As a part of the various green initiatives, the North East Frontier Railway (NFR) has adopted new cost effective green technology to bring down its energy bill. Certain areas of NFR have been converted into green corridor. India is among the twelve mega biodiversity countries of the world, having great ranges of natural vegetation and rich wildlife. Forests and natural vegetation are fundamental to our existence and we are fortunate to have them. Being an integral part of nature, it is important for us to save them.

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