She gingerly placed the miniature in the car’s trunk and got into the drivers seat. Her 10 year old son hopped into the seat beside her and she slowly pulled out of the driveway. She drove slower than usual to ensure safe delivery of the miniature cardboard model to her son’s school. She had stayed up all night working on the miniature model of a forest made out of cardboard replete with plastic animals, green tinted cotton for trees’ foliage and blue cellophane paper for ponds and streams. Her son had slept on a cushion beside her and woken up at uneven intervals to further the completion of his EVS (Environmental Studies) project.
The project was due today and as she pulled into the school gate she found herself in a swarm of parents carrying miniature models, charts, terrariums etc. as they accompanied their wards to their classrooms. She dropped off her son and the miniature of the forest and headed home. She made a mental checklist of all the household chores awaiting completion – last night’s dishes had to be done; laundry had to be taken care of, preparations for lunch. Oh! The gruesome monotony! She switched on the car radio to interrupt her sad chain of thought.
“I see trees of green…red roses too,
I see ’em bloom….for me and for you,
And I think to myself….what a wonderful world.”
She didn’t know what the song inspired in her but she had soon left the road that took her home. She stopped when she reached a gate. The sign read, “National Park”. She smiled quietly to herself and bought a ticket. Green Therapy – She knew it would be a good day!
So why conserve forests? Allow me to enumerate…
10. Relaxing getaway
You must have heard of “Retail therapy”, where people ‘shop till they drop’ to nurse themselves out of gloom. Forests can have the same effect on people, it can help one deal with the monotony of life in the city, and I call it – Green therapy! Forests are therapeutic and make for a fun, relaxing getaway from the hustle bustle of the city. A short walk in the woods, a day spent bird-watching, spotting lions or tigers in a safari, observing wildlife in their natural habitat is education that no classroom teaching can provide. Apart from that it’s an experience that can be enjoyed by individuals and family alike. The relaxing calm, the soft sounds of twittering birds, the gently flowing brooks are moments cherished, moments stolen from time!
9. Supply resources and raw-materials
Forests supply us with a wide variety of resources and raw-materials. Apart from well known products like paper (made from wood pulp) and furniture, some other products that come to our table courtesy forests are honey, beeswax, resin, rubber, Christmas trees, decorative foliage etc. Forests also provide fuel; tribals and villagers salvage twigs and dry leaves from the forest floor and use it as fuel to generate heat and light. Deforestation without afforestation and follow up of afforestation activities would entail stoppage of production of above products and leave us wanting!
8. Aesthetic value
Now imagine a garden with soft green grass flowing all around you in endless green turf, bordered with tulips, roses, dahlias, gerberas! Wouldn’t you just love lolling all day in this garden?
A sturdy oak dinning table with a vase overflowing with beautiful freshly cut white roses! Doesn’t that bring to fore a beautiful mental picture?
Why do you think that is? Why do you think human beings try to bring in a little bit of nature into their houses? The answer is simple! Aesthetics!
A little bit of greenery, a little bit of colour from flowers adds aestheticism to a house, not to mention, having plants in the house purifies air! Similarly, forests add the much required and much pleasing aesthetic quality to Plant Earth. They make Earth beautiful!
7. Heritage for future generations
Forests, with their variety of resources and vast bio-diversity, are the heritage that we have received from our ancestors. As elders we will bequeath the very same heritage to our future generations! When we bequeath estate, property and assorted wealth to our younger generation, we do so with the noble though of bettering and securing their future. We have to teach ourselves to associate the same nobility in thought & action to the preservation of forests. After all, the future of the planet, its living conditions are all a function of the state of our forests. Do we really wish to jeopardize the future of our young by the rampant and mindless destruction of forests? That question begs a most certain and definite No.
6. Prevents erosion of soil
The roots of trees are the glue that keeps soil together. Suffice to say that forests and the numerous trees in forests are like an army guarding against disintegration of soil and subsequent landslides. Forests are the arsenals of soil. If not for trees binding soil, we would have rampant soil erosion wherein soil would get washed away into sea. The eventuality would mean barren lands and depletion in fertility of soil. Absence of fertile soil translates into barriers to crop production! And we all know what no crops would mean to survival of mankind!
5. Harbingers of rainfall
The following was observed in Pune, India:
Pune is a city in interior Maharashtra, it receives average rainfall. There is a Tata Motors factory in the outskirts of the city. The surroundings of the factory are lush green with significant afforestation efforts taken by the factory owners. Surprisingly, the area in and around the factory has been reported to receive more rainfall than Pune city! This has been attributed to the green canopy provided by trees that were planted around the factory.
Trees aide the water cycle. Trees absorb soil water via roots. They throw out the excess water by means of transpiration. This adds to the pre-existing water vapour in the air and hastens condensation of water vapour and hence clouds are formed. This is why trees and in essence forests are called Rain Magnets. Any place close to forests receives above average rainfall and also the exudation of water vapour into the air by trees helps bring down summer temperatures.
One of the most important gifts that forests have bestowed on man kind are medicines derived from plant extract. Reportedly, some 121 prescription drugs that are sold all over the world are derived from plants and 25 percent of Western medicine comes from rain forest ingredients. Rain forests hold bio-diversity treasures that are even today untouched and unexplored by mankind. The U.S. National Cancer Institute states that there are 3,000 plants that work against cancer cells and 70 percent of them are found in rain forests. Apart from these there are several plant species that are yet to be found. This means that these presently unknown plants hold prospects for cures for diseases that are at present languishing in the incurable category. Forests are a storehouse of biochemical information that could fuel revolutions in the pharmaceutical industry and further the health and well-being of man-kind.
3. Oxygen factory
We have all learnt about photosynthesis in plants. How plants manufacture their food by combining water and carbon dioxide to manufacture glucose and give out oxygen into the atmosphere. A lesson and definition repeated in almost every year of schooling so much so that in my mind’s textbook, photosynthesis was a millimeter away from becoming the new synonym for biology! That is how ubiquitous Photosynthesis was in our syllabus!
The lesson taught us this- trees absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen – the gas, whose absence would render the planet Earth hostile for human and animal existence. This helps us to conclude that forests play the dual role of carbon dioxide sinkholes and oxygen factories. Yet another reason why preservation of forests is of paramount importance.
How would you like it, if I razed your house down to the ground with a wrecking ball? Not very much!
Forests are home to various species of flora and fauna. They house animals, plants, birds, and insects; in other words forests are one big Noah’s Ark with passengers ranging from the smallest protozoan to the largest living animal! Thankfully for us, these flora and fauna are very accommodative and have for several years co-existed with us humans with a humble motto of “Mi casa es su casa”. This, however, doesn’t allow us to spaz out onto forest land and claim it as our property. It is communal property and human beings need to exercise discretion and forethought before razing enormous forests lands down to nothingness!
1. Ecological balance
Forests can be likened to a huge naturally occurring contraption that consists of various processes and cycles very much like manufacturing cycles and production processes in a factory! We already read about how trees are Oxygen factories, forests on the whole are factories in which several such cycles occur. Biogeochemical cycles like Nitrogen cycle, Water cycle, Phosphorous cycle, Carbon cycle. These cycles ensure normal functioning of environmental processes.
Apart from that ancillary activities like the food chain, predator-prey relationship, co-existence of biotic and abiotic elements are all cogs in the wheel of Nature. These are the very processes that ensure equilibrium on the planet. Destruction of forests would mean willful forfeit of this important machinery that is keeping the planet in “Live Action” mode!
Forests serve a noble purpose on our planet and it is up to us to take up the cudgels in the fight to save them from perishing.