Some of the steps we can take to conserve our forest resources are as follows:
1. Regulated and Planned Cutting of Trees:
One of the main reasons of deforestation is commercial felling of trees. According to an estimate, about 1,600 million cubic metres of wood have been used for various purposes in the world. Although trees are considered as perennial resource, when exploited on a very large scale, their revival cannot be possible.
Therefore, cutting should be regulated by adopting methods like:
(i) Clear cutting,
(ii) Selective cutting, and
(iii) Shelter wood cutting.
The clear cutting method is useful for those areas where the same types of trees are available over a large area. In that case, trees of same age group can be cut down in a selected area and then marked for replantation. In selective cutting only mature trees are selected for cutting. This process is to be followed in rotation. Sheker wood cutting is where first of all useless trees are cut down followed by medium and best quality timber trees.
The time gap between these cuttings is helpful in re-growth of trees. In regulated cutting only one-tenth of the forest area is selected for use and rotational system is always followed for their protection. The forest can be managed in such a way that a timber crop may be harvested indefinitely year after year without being depleted. This technique is called the ‘sustained yield’ method adopted by many countries.
2. Control over Forest Fire:
Destruction or loss of forest by fire is fairly common; because trees are highly exposed to fire and once started it becomes difficult to control. Sometimes, the fire starts by natural process, i.e., by lightning or by friction between trees during speedy winds, while in most cases it is also by man either intentionally or unintentionally.
According to an estimate, during the period from 1940 to 1950, in the US alone, fires consumed an average of 21.5 million acres of timber yearly and as many as 1,175,664 cases of forest fires occurred during 1955 to 1964 period. In US forests fire is very common and a main cause of the loss of forest.
Throughout the world forest fire is common and in most cases they were begun by man. As John D. Guthrie, former fire inspector of US Forest Service has written: “To stage a forest fire you need only few things a forest, the right atmospheric conditions, and a spark either from a lightning bolt or a match in the hands of a fool or a knave. The formula is simple the larger the forest, the drier the air, the bigger the fool, the bigger the fire you will have.”
In order to save forests from fire, it is necessary to adopt latest techniques of fire fighting. Some of the fire suppression techniques are to develop three metre wide fire lanes around the periphery of the fire, back fires, arrangement of water spray, fire retardant chemicals should be sprayed from back tank and if possible by helicopters. There must be trained staff of fire fighters to control the fire.
3. Reforestation and Afforestation:
The sustained yield concept dictates that whenever timber is removed, either by block cutting or by selective cutting, the denuded area must be reforested. This may be done by natural or artificial methods. Similarly, any forested land, which has been destroyed by fire or mining activities, should be reforested. In rugged terrain aerial seeding is the method of choice.
Besides all this, fresh afforestation programmes should be started. New plantations will not only increase the forest cover but also help in making up the eco-balance. For afforestation, selection of trees should be done according to local geographical conditions and care must be taken during initial growth of the trees.
4. Check over Forest Clearance for Agricultural and Habitation Purposes:
Most of the present-day agricultural land was once forested and then cleared for the use of agriculture. But now it has reached the stage where further clearance will be dangerous for the entire ecosystem. There are tribals in some parts of Asia, Africa and South America, where shifting cultivation is still a part of their system of land procurement.
According to an estimate, about 40 million sq km of land is used for this purpose by 200 million tribals of the world. For the conservation of forests, this should be checked and an alternative method should be devised. Similarly, for the development of villages, towns and cities, forest lands have been cleared and this process continues to this day causing loss of forest cover. This also should be checked and green belts around cities be developed.
5. Protection of Forests:
The existing forests should be protected. Apart from commercial cutting, unorganised grazing is also one of the reasons. There are several forest diseases resulting from parasitic fungi, rusts, mistletoes, viruses and nematodes which cause the destruction of trees. The forests should be protected either by use of chemical spray, antibiotics or by development of disease resistant strains of trees.
6. Proper Utilisation of Forest and Forests Products:
Generally, trees are cut for logs and the rest, including stump, limbs, branches and foliage, etc., is left out as worthless debris. Further waste occurs at the saw mills. There is thus need to utilise this waste material. Today, several uses have been developed and products like waterproof glues, boar r etc., can be obtained.
Similarly, forests can be used or developed as tourist centres. By using them as tourist centres the country can earn substantial foreign exchange. This practice has been adopted by many countries, both developed and developing. The concepts of ‘national park’ and ‘game sanctuary’ have now become popular and every country has developed its unique forest area as a ‘national park’. In India alone, there are as many as 92 national parks and game sanctuaries. This is a good method of forest conservation.
7. Role of Government in Forest Conservation:
Although the government of every country is very particular about conservation of its forest resources and has several rules and laws for the protection of forests but, they are not implement in an effective manner.
Both national and provincial governments can take some steps in this direction, such as:
(i) Pass acts for the conservation of forests,
(ii) Survey of the forest resources,
(iii) Categorization of forest areas and proper delimitation of reserved forest areas,
(iv) Find out the areas where reforestation can be done,
(v) Regulate the commercial use of forest products,
(vi) Protect forest from fire, mining and other natural calamities,
(vii) Develop national parks,
(viii) Encourage forests developmental activities like social forestry, agro-forestry, etc., and
(ix) Prepare master plans, both for long-term and short-term period, etc.
8. Forest Management:
Management of forest resources is the key to all conservation efforts. In forest management, the following aspects should be taken into consideration:
(i) Survey of forest,
(ii) Categorisation of forest.
(iii) Economic use of forest,
(iv) Administrative setting for forest management,
(v) Training programmes for persons engaged in forest conservation activities,
(vi) Use of forest land as tourist centers,
(vii) Social and agro-forestry,
(viii) Development of new techniques for the conservation of forests,
(ix) Research for efficient use and conservation of forest, and
(x) Policy decisions and their proper implementation.
In brief, conservation of forest resources can be done by cooperative efforts of the government, non-government organisations and the public through a proper management system.