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September 04, 2017

Essays for IBPS PO VII : Deforestation

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Deforestation - The Result of Human Greed

Overview
  • Define deforestation. 
  • Causes of deforestation. 
  • The effects of deforestation. 
  • Analyses the report of the Forest Survey of India.
  • The initiatives taken by the Government of India.
  • Personal initiatives to protect the forest.
  • The importance of protection of forests.
Mahatma Gandhi has said in this regard, "The Earth has enough for our need, But not for our greed". 

Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests in order to make the land available for other uses. Forests cover almost 30% of the world's land area. A forest is defined as a large area of land covered with trees or woody vegetation.

Forests are the lungs of an ecosystem which helps in purification of air by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the atmosphere. Forests contribute in three fourth production of organic compounds and is home to almost 80% earth's plant biomass. 

According to a report by UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), agriculture is one of the primary cause of deforestation. This can be linked to increasing population and shrinking space available for humans. Among different types of agriculture, subsistence agriculture (farming for own consumption) is responsible for 48% of forest destruction; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation and logging is responsible for 14% of degradation. According to a report by food and agricultural organisation almost 50% of forests in tropical regions have been cleared.

Tribal communities which are involved in subsistence farming also contributes to deforestation. This is mostly in the tropical region. This type of agriculture is technically called slash and burn agriculture or shifting cultivation. The tribals fell the forest and burn them to clear the area for agriculture. They move from one area to other in search of more fertile piece of land therefore giving rise to shifting cultivation. They are known by different names in India as Jhum in North-East; Dipa in Chhattisgarh; Kuruwa in Jharkhand etc. Their nomenclature in world are, Milpa in Mexico; Coohuco in Venezuela; Roca in Brazil; Ladang in Indonesia; Ray in Vietnam etc.

Deforestation is the rapid rate of urbanisation and industrialisation. This can also be attributed to the rising population globally. So, forests are cut down to clear spaces for urban development and setting industries. In 2015, Government of India passed the Compensatory Afforestation Bill to manage funds which were allocated for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes. 

Another major cause of deforestation is its economic significance. Cutting down forest for commercial use in different industries is a lucrative business. Forest woods are used mainly for construction purpose, furniture industry, news print and stationery, sports equipments etc. 

The effects of deforestation are many which directly and indirectly affects us. 
  • The most adverse effect of deforestation is global warming and climate change. Plants absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and uses it to produce food. In return it gives off oxygen. 
Destroying the forests mean CO2 will remain in the atmosphere and in addition, destroyed vegetation will give off more CO2 stored in them as they decompose. This will alter the climate of that region.
  • Another effect of deforestation in our biosphere is in the water cycle. Reduced vegetation cover leads to loss of water from the ground and reduced evapotranspiration. This leads to loss of ground water and less moisture in the atmosphere. 
The precipitation in turn gets affected leading to a skewed water cycle. Also, oceans work as carbon sink, due to less forest cover the acidification of oceans may take place leading to disturbance in the ocean ecology.
  • Soil is also affected as a result of deforestation. The surface run off of water leads to removal of the top fertile layer of soil. The rate of erosion increases in a deforested area and resulted into soil degradation and desertification. In mountainous areas where the soil is loosely packed gets affected which can lead to risk of landslide.
  • Deforestation also affects the biodiversity as a whole. The loss of vegetation leads to extinction of species which are reliant on forest covers. Wild animals start trespassing human habitat. Gadgil Report on Western ghats has restricted human activities in certain areas. Western ghats is one of the biological hotspots of the world. Its conservation has been supported by UNESCO for preserving rich biodiversity. 
Forest Survey of India publishes the biennial 'State of Forest Report'. According to latest report of 2015, India has a policy of keeping one-third of country's area under forest. At present Indian forest cover is 21.34%. Mizoram and Madhya Pradesh has the highest forest density and highest area under forest respectively. The mangrove cover has increased on the Indian coasts.

However, states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Kerala have suffered huge loss of forest cover. India has a classification of reserved forest and protected forest. Reserved forests are those where hunting, grazing etc are banned.

In protected forests these activities are sometimes regulated due to deforestation in India. Naturally Available Forest Resources (NAFR) are shrinking. Also forest dwellers like tribals are dependent on minor forest produce. 

Therefore, in 2006, the Schedule Tribe and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act was passed to secure their right over forest resource. In 1970s Chipko Movement started in Uttarakhand, in India. Due to state policy forest cover in these area was reducing and the benefit was getting accrued to industrialist. 

Under the leadership of Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sunderlal Bahuguna the Chipko movement took off. Due to their efforts large swathes of forest cover was secured from deforestation. Despite many governmental efforts, social initiatives, the analysation needs to wake up to the need to put a stop on deforestation. 

Forests are an important part of our ecology. For sustainability and preserving the biodiversity of the Earth deforestation should be checked. Human greed leads to disbalance in nature and in extreme cases may raise a question on their own sustenance. It is therefore imperative that we make sustained effect to secure forest cover. 

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Biomass - the total quantity of organisms in a given area
  • Degradation - the act or process of damaging or ruining something
  • Subsistence - the state or fact of existing
  • Nomenclature - the selecting of names for things in a particular field
  • Lucrative  - profitable, money making
  • Quasi - resembling, seeming, virtual
  • Evapotranspiration - the process of transferring moisture from the earth to the atmosphere by evaporation of water and transpiration of plants
  • Precipitation - rain, snow, sleet or hail that falls to or condenses on the ground
  • Skewed - to give an oblique direction
  • Swathes - a long strip of land
  • Sustenance - the process of making something continue
  • Imperative - absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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