Celebrating International Year of Forests -2011
By R.K. Birjit Singh
The UN has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to better protect the planet`™s lungs. Forests once covered half of the Earth`™s landmass. Now they cover less than one tenth. Unfortunately, most of us are not true tree lovers. We treat trees as products or obstructions to economic progress. Trees are unsung heroes of human environment and the rest of the other fellow species on earth. They never demand anything from us. They majestically beautify all corners of the world. They know only to give us whereas, we know only to take. Now, the time has come to return back the total sum of our activities since our arrival on this earth if we have to continue our existence on the surface of the earth.
The grandiose achievements of man in the scientific and technological fields have led to an upsurge of industrialization, urbanization, growth of population, proliferation of consumer goods, dams and other big projects, which are considered to be the hallmark of progress and development. On the other hand we are faced with colossal problems of depletion of natural resources, contamination of our rivers, lakes and seas, shortage of food, water, land and air, toxic waste dumping on land, rivers and sea. The world has come to realize the development is exerting such a great pressure on the nature and its biodiversity that the growth process itself has begun to slow down. Impoverishment of nature is resulting in the impoverishment of man. Now, we read, hear and talk about environment and biodiversity. People from diverse fields such as the Environmentalist, Scientist, Architects, Politicians, Town planners and the common man- all talk about conservation of the environment and biodiversity. Actually, conservation means different things to different people. The stability of the global environment is at stake as the forest which are the green lungs of the earth is vanishing at an alarming rate of 13 million hectares per year and we are losing about 200 square kilometers of forest each day. According to FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) estimates, 7.3 million hectares of the world`™s tropical forests disappear each year. It is an undisputed fact that the forest plays a major role in conditioning the global climate and in conserving the ecosystem and biodiversity of the earth. The modern world is contributing well over 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually in the atmosphere thereby increasing the global temperature in an unprecedented way. On the other hand the life-sustaining oxygen gas liberated as a by product of the process of photosynthesis in green plants is diminishing at a rate of 10-12 billion tones every year from the atmosphere.
One acre of forest area can absorb about four tones of carbon dioxide and produce about eight tones of oxygen annually. A medium and large tree produces almost the same quantity of oxygen as a motor car consumes in a day. The amount of oxygen released by a big tree like banyan in a day can feed the oxygen requirement of a person for almost half a year. Imagine life without oxygen or air for just five minutes that will be the end of the journey of life. Man cannot survive 5 minutes without oxygen for respiration, 5 days without water and 5 weeks without food.
Let us try to have a very simple idea and intricate mechanism of relationships of the living organisms and green plants. For example that the role of parents to their kids cannot be explained in words and without them the child would not be able to see this world. But let us make one thing clear that an infant child can survive without their parents after their birth if someone is there to care them. On the other hand the child will not be able to survive for 5 minutes without oxygen for respiration. The oxygen released as a by product of the process of photosynthesis by the green plants provides the oxygen required by all the living organisms. In blood lines, the parent may be very near to the kids but not nearer then the green plants. The message is clear `without green plants we cannot survive`.
Who provide this to us?. The forest, the trees and the green plants. The food chain system starts from green plants whether it`™s terrestrial or aquatic and it clearly indicates that `All flesh in our body is grass`, a quote from the biblical Saint Isaiah. Scientist cannot produce carbohydrate, protein and fats in their laboratory but only can reprocess from the natural resources. And we have to depend on the age old process of photosynthesis of plants for our carbohydrate, protein, and mineral requirements. Forest, trees and green plants provides your food, shelter, air to respire and life saving medicines and what is not? The forest is our cradle of existence from where we derive all our nourishment.
Among the top ten countries with highest rate of deforestation, Brazil is leading the way followed by Indonesia, Sudan, Zambia, Mexico, Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Argentina. And among the top ten most threatened Forest of the world as reported by Conservation International, Indo-Burma (Indo-Myanmar) biodiversity hot spot has the highest rate of deforestation. More alarming is that this is a part of our state of Manipur, Mizoram and some parts Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
When man begins to interfere with order and system that nature has so intricately arranged in act of seeming revenge, he further upsets the delicate balance in the planet`™s eco-system by global warming, flood, drought and epidemics, landslides etc.
If you are cutting a tree today means you are cutting the leg of your son or grandson. If you are burning the forest today means you are cutting your throat and burning the lungs of your son and grandson. But we need to survive! What to do and what is to be done? If you want to cut five trees, plant twenty-five trees before one year and so on and this is the only way to continue human existence on the surface of the earth.
One of the earliest Vedic hymns, composed over 4000 years ago, gave the message of what is now termed as sustainable development:
`Whatever I dig you, O Earth,
May you of that have quick replenishment!
O Purifying One, may my thrust never
Reach right unto your vital
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