After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Deforestation 2. History of Deforestation in India 3. Causes 4. Effects 5. Issues 6. Universal Solution.
- Essay on the Meaning of Deforestation
- Essay on the History of Deforestation in India
- Essay on the Causes for Deforestation
- Essay on the Effects of Deforestation
- Essay on the Issues of Deforestation
- Essay on Universal Solution of Deforestation
Essay # 1. Meaning of Deforestation:
Deforestation, in the simple sense, will mean the removal of vegetation from an area. Deforestation, as the name suggests, is the clearing of forests and trees from an area for various commercial purposes.
Some facts relating to deforestation in India:
(i) Deforestation could lead to changes in surface conditions, which would increase the intensity and decrease the duration of rainfall, thereby increasing run-off. This causes soil erosion, leading to silting of river beds. This is how floods occur.
(ii) India is losing 1.5 million hectares (mha) of forests per year, thereby bringing down the total forest area from 74 mha to 40 mha.
(iii) Deforestation causes loss of top soil to the tune of 12,000 million tonnes.
(iv) Due to deforestation, India loses Rs.10,000 crores every year in the form of damage by floods.
Essay # 2. History of Deforestation in India:
The recorded history of deforestation goes back at least to the beginning of the 19th century. The British, after all, were not laymen, The Madras Presidency—along with Bombay one of the two great administrative units of southern British India—appointed a forest conservator as far back as 1806.
It is true that in 1823 an illustrious and sympathetic governor of the presidency, Thomas Munro, abolished the position of conservator, but he did so in doctrinaire—and unfortunately incorrect-belief that supply and demand would stimulate private afforestation if timber supplies ran low.
No planting occurred over the next four decades. The British meanwhile continued building railways and roads, and one consequence was an increased capability for serving a growing market for forest products—and increased tree cutting.
By 1860, conditions had deteriorated so much that officers in most of central India were treating teak as an oddity. E.P. Stebbing’s authoritative The Forests of India goes so far as to ascribe the silting of the great eastern deltas of the Krishna and Godavari rivers to the forests being cleared hundreds of miles to the west.
Essay # 3. Causes for Deforestation:
There are many reasons for deforestation to occur. Many of the reasons are region-specific, but in general it is possible to pin-point the major reasons for deforestation to occur. The major reasons for deforestation to occur can be dealt with by dividing the causes among the various sections of the society. Here the emphasis has been given to the major causes facing the Indian act of deforestation.
I. The Rural Sector:
The rural area is partly responsible for the deforestation of the forests of India, as they are sometimes desperate to clear the forests for their own survival. We must also not forget the indifferent attitude of the forest officials towards the villagers, who are often dubbed illiterates, and at times made the scapegoat. From the rural sector, no doubt, there are reasons that contribute to the deforestation scenario.
a. Rural Energy Demand:
This refers to the wood cut by the villagers for cooking and other purposes. Sometimes the greed to sell more and earn more may instigate many a villager to indiscriminately exploit the forest.
Moreover, there are times when the villagers are not competent enough to know what kind of trees what kind of protection. The loss of forest resources occurs when in collecting the wood, the villagers cause harm to the trees, of course unknowingly, yet irreparable.
b. Lands for Agriculture:
The practice of agriculture by the rural people was affected by the market economy, which encouraged the farmers to produce more, but at the expense of the forests. Besides, the cultivable area was so small and deficient, that the villagers thought it best to clear large areas of forests to meet their demands.
In every community, there are areas which are for the use of the people in general. These lands are called the Common Resource Property (CRP). Grazing lands are one of them. Due to excess grazing of the cattle in the grazing lands, the top soil is washed away, which makes it useless for any purpose, including grazing. This prompted the villagers to clear the forest areas for growing fodder. This has, without doubt, led to deforestation.
II. The Urban Sector:
The urban sector consists of both the urban population demands and the sub-urban population demands. It must be understood that the urban sector is involved in the act of deforestation indirectly, but to a greater magnitude than the rural sector.
The major reason that prompts the urban sector to get itself involved in this deforestation act is the emergence of the mass consumption, propounded by W.W. Rostow. This era is characterized by a hedonistic attitude of the people, coupled with total disregard for the environment.
The various ways in which the urban sector contributes to the disastrous act of deforestation are:
a. Human Habitation:
There is considerable demand for housing in the urban sector. Since the land area is limited, the only option for the real estate dealers is to buy the forest land for cheap, clear them and make housing sites for the urban populace. This also includes the demand for wood in the construction of the houses. With more demand, greater is the harm done to the forests.
b. Infrastructural Development:
With the growth of more housing in the cities, there is a greater need to, Provide various infrastructural facilities for the people, which sure has a major impact on the forests. Be it the laying of roads, or networking cities, is titanic operation to clear the impediments on the route, which are the forests. Hence forests become the prey to the modern developmental processes.
c. Satellite Townships:
In order to reduce the congestion in the urban areas, various infrastructures are developed along the fringes of the cities to divert the population. But this process has an evil effect.
Though the satellite towns may remain enviro-friendly for some time, with the passage of time and the simultaneous increase, not only, in the population, but also in the migration of rural people to the urban areas. This concept is double -edged sword—it not only clears away the forests on the fringes of the cities, but also causes the formation of another city, with all its hatred for the forest.
III. The Corporate Sector:
Doing business for profit is the motto of many corporates. But this aim should not in any way make the sector apathetic to the environmental pollution that it causes. Moreover, the setting up of industries needs large tracts of land and the cheapest option is the forests. Hence, forests end up as the production centres of many goods.
In particular, there are industries that need a lot of inputs that are got only from the forests. These industries are many, but it would be a mistake to consider that all the agro-based industries lead to deforestation. Three major industries are identified that cause mass deforestation.
a. Paper and paper Board industry:
It is documented that about 1 /4th of the population use 3/4th of the total paper production in the world, which is a major cause for the depletion of forests. It is the paper industry which is the highest user of wood in the world.
b. Mining Industry:
Mining is a devastating operation that not only destroys the natural ecosystems, particularly if it is surface mining, but also, introduces tremendous distortions in the forestry sector of the nation. The associated problems of deforestation are marked and are to be expected in any mining operation.
The recovery of the mineral and construction materials requires removal of vegetal cover. This results in reshaping of the topography and large-scale denuding of the forest cover.
c. Leather Industry:
The leather industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the nation. This industry does a knowing harm to the ecosystem. The basic input for the leather industry is the skin of animals (hides). Not all the types of hides can be got easily.
Many rare varieties of animal skins are available in deep down the forests. In order to take possession of these varieties, the leather companies embark upon collective and large-scale clearance of forests, in search of such rare skins. Though the magnitude of their destruction to the forests is minimal, yet their impact remains the same.
IV. The Government:
Many types of people are blamed in India for forest destruction. There are the nomads, the tribal population or the women who collect dry wood from the forests for fuel, who are made the accused in the denuding of the forest cover. But, it is many times forgotten that the State owns many of the forest lands and it is their responsibility to take care of the forests.
The government must be blamed for the destruction of the forests due to:
(i) Their flexibility in allocating the forest land to corporates under political pressure.
(ii) The distribution of lands to tribal people, on which agriculture cannot be done, due the soil variety. This causes the allotted land to be wasted as the cleared land for agriculture can no longer be used for the purpose intended, nor can they be used as forest cover as earlier.
V. Other Reasons:
(i) One of the major reasons for the destruction of the forests are the building of dams and reservoirs. These projects, albeit, intended for the benefit of the people, extends on the reverse side into trouble for the people. Displacement of the masses on one side, the projects cause large areas of virgin forests to be destroyed ruthlessly.
(ii) The other reason could be attributed to the lack of vigilance of the people who use the forests as camps. Their carelessness may cause forest fires, which devours large areas of lush-green forests.
Thus these are the major reasons for deforestation.
Essay # 4. Effects of Deforestation:
Population growth and agricultural development has put unprecedented pressure on India’s forests in the past half-century. With the simultaneous increase in both the number of cattle and the area of land under cultivation, livestock owners have been forced to move to forest areas to graze their herds; 78% of all forests have experienced incidences of grazing, and in 74% of forests regeneration is lacking (State of the Forest Report 1995).
In addition to land officially converted to non-forest use, extensive areas have been illegally occupied for settlements and for shifting cultivation. The remaining forests have suffered severe degradation due to the enormous demand for firewood which, together with charcoal, constitutes about 90% of the demand for wood.
Industrial wood demands also exceed India’s silvi-cultural productivity. Efforts to encourage industry to meet the deficit through farm forestry in marginal lands have met with limited success.
The major effects of deforestation are on four important areas, which are vital to the existence of life on earth.
(c) Water and
a. Impact on Atmosphere:
(i) Forests act as excellent filters to separate the dust and the industrial waste. The lack of forests will not only lead to more pollution, but also lead to less of photosynthetic oxygen which is so vital for living beings.
(ii) Greenhouse Effect will be increased which in turn will increase the average temperature of the earth.
(iii) Weather patterns will be affected, as there will be no forests to regulate the temperature and the humidity of the denuded region.
(iv) The role of moisture cycling by the forests will be on the decline which will eventually lead to distortions in the hydrological cycle.
b. Impact on Land:
(i) Soil erosion will be the greatest problem that the earth will face during the post-deforestation period, as vegetation alone gives stability to the soil and protects nature against soil erosion.
(ii) There will soon be large scale formation of ravines which will change the topography of the region and will make the place unsuitable for vegetation to grow.
(iii) Lateralization process will be speeded up which will make the soil infertile and so the land becomes unsuitable for agriculture or forests.
(vi) There is a high chance for the land to become arid and dry soon, which will reduce the biological potential of the soil and eventually lead to desert-like conditions. This is called the desertification process.
c. Impact on Water:
(i) Due to deforestation, the rate of siltation in the catchment areas will be high.
(ii) There will be no natural filtering of the water from the forests. It is only in the forests that the water will get filtered. Otherwise, the water will be unsuitable for usage.
d. Impact on Bio-Diversity:
(i) There will be a great loss of rare and highly beneficial medicinal plants and trees, which will put to dis-ease the human tribe.
(ii) Animals have their habitat in the forests. Deforestation will lead to displacement of the fauna, which may prove to be disastrous to the mankind.
Essay # 5. Issues in Deforestation:
The basic issues with regard to deforestation stem mainly from the four areas that were found to be the major causes of deforestation in India.
(i) On the rural side, the issue is that the people still depend on the forests for wood fuel, and how is that their needs be fulfilled as well as forests don’t get depleted because of their actions.
(ii) On the urban side, we must remember that the trend of consumerism has found currency with the urbanities accompanied with total disregard for the environment. So, can the consumerist attitude and the conversationalist attitude co-exist?
(iii) Corporates are facing increasing pressure from various organizations to take care of the environment, yet there is no social concern or initiative coming from them directly. Can legislation do the needful?
(iv) Almost all the forests are owned by the government and it is their responsibility to see to it that the forests are safeguarded. But due to lack of political will and pressure from other sectors, the government is not able to decide and act on its own. Can the government be unbiased in its actions?
(v) The standard of fixing 33% compulsory forest cover for all the states of the nation is not a viable option, as there are various differences among the states, and many of them are solely dependent on the forest resources for their revenue. Can a region-specific target be drawn up, so that the overall forest cover concedes to the total target of 33%.
(vi) It is noteworthy to mention that the rate of deforestation exceeds the rate of afforestation. As the land area is fixed, and the cleared forests are used for other purposes, can the scheme of afforestation be successful in the near future?
(vii) There is a close link between agriculture and forestry. With improvements in the agriculture sector, and with the increase in population, there is a continuous need for upgrading the resources. Can the forest resources be experimented with the modern technologies?
Thus, these are some of the issues relating to the aspect of deforestation in India.
Essay # 6. Universal Solution to Deforestation:
It is well-known among the readers of the subject of environment, that the diametrically opposite term of’ afforestation’ is in vogue now. Hence, ‘afforestation’ proves to be the panacea for the bleeding earth. The prosperity and economic growth of a country depends, to a large extent, on its forest wealth.
The forest is an important natural resource for any country and deforestation retards a country’s development. To meet the demands of the expanding population, basic resources can be obtained only through afforestation. Afforestation refers to the scheduled of planting trees for food and fodder development.
Nurseries play an important role in increasing forest cover. As necessary as it is for a child to get through her/his tender age at a nursery, so is it for plants to grow under proper care and protection. This prepares them to withstand adverse situations during planting.
There are greater possibilities of plants getting destroyed by natural factors such as storms and wind, grazing by cattle, etc., during direct sowing. Eventually, not only the seeds but our efforts also are wasted. Hence a successful afforestation programme can be achieved only through proper initial care.
There are two main components of afforestation:
1. Farm Forestry, and
2. Afforestation of degraded lands.
Each component will have to have separate coordinating agencies and so also different objectives and regional allocations. This will help in ameliorating many of the evils of deforestation.