An Overlook into the Afforestation Practices

Context:

• The countries all over the world have been encouraging in planting trees and other planting campaign for many years.
• Recently even the Government of India through the National Afforestation and Eco Development Board, launched an ambitious project.
• The project includes a 19,000-crore plan for an afforestation drive to rejuvenate thirteen major rivers.

Requirement of a Holistic Approach:

• Just planting trees may help in storing carbon and thereby reducing pollution.
• But forests are complex ecosystems that are raised over years with an interplay of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, microorganisms, soil, water and other environmental conditions.
• Selection of wrong areas for plantation will lead to damage of the original ecosystem.
• This will cause the species living in that area to degenerate and cause habitat loss.
• One such example is the conversion of natural grasslands to wooded areas through plantation drives.
• The Great Indian Bustard is now facing the threat of extinction with fewer than 200 species.
• The reason behind this is the plantation in the areas where the bustards lived.
• Other such natural habitats such as woodland savanna, scrubland, wetlands and rocky outcrops that have been evolved to shelter unique biodiversity have been in threat due to the plantation drives.

Fundamental Wrongs:

• Every land has its own natural habitats which have evolved from centuries, so the diversity is very rich when it comes to environment and ecology.
• Now, the argument of the plantation drives is that they are planting trees which are native to the land.
• But, it has to understood that native species are suitable to only those tiny stretches not the entire country.
• So, the word Native Tree species is a misunderstood term in India.
• Trees such as neem, banyan, peepal and anjan may be native to India but not to the entire landmass.
• We should not ignore the ecologically sensititve criterias in planting the trees in all the parts of the country.
• Planting any species of the trees may be not damaging in an Urban setup but it is critical in other regions.

Way Forward:

• Anyway the plantation campaigns should not be discouraged, it should be altered in such a way to suite to the local biodiversity.
• So when there is a drive of restoring the forests, it must be kept in mind the implications of planting the wrong species.
• Best way to restore forests is to letting them come back on their own strength through strict conservation measures.
• This is called assisted natural regeneration and is cost effective and has better impact in a longer term.
• There are scientific evidence to show that such naturally regenerated forests have 40 times more power in secreting the carbon that plantations.

 

Source: THE HINDU.

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