“Forests are defined as large areas of land with trees.”
Almost 31% of the earth’s land surface is covered by forests. According to a 2015 report, 23% of India’s land cover consists of the forest region. Trees and plants in the forest are an integral part of the ecosystem. It sustains life on the planet and provides clean air and shelter. Also, forests help conserve biodiversity.
Wildlife refers to animal species that are not domesticated. So, any living organism that lives in the forest region is associated with wildlife. It is found in almost all ecosystems such as rainforests, boreal forests, plains, grasslands, deserts, etc. Wildlife provides great stability to our environment wherein they are involved in natural processes either directly or indirectly. Each living organism is placed in the food chain and is equally important, they may be a producer, a consumer, or a decomposer, all these are interlinked and depend on each other for their survival.
We all use various forest produce. But our dependency on forest
resources varies. Some of us have access to alternatives, some do not.
When we consider the conservation of forests, we need to look at the
stakeholders who are –
(i) the people who live in or around forests are dependent on forest
produce for various aspects of their life (see Fig. 16.2).
(ii) the Forest Department of the Government which owns the land
and controls the resources from forests.
(iii) the industrialists – those who use ‘tendu’ leaves to make
bidis to the ones with paper mills – who use various forest produce,
but are not dependent on the forests in any one area.
(iv) the wildlife and nature enthusiasts who want to conserve nature
in its pristine form.
Reasons Why Forests and Wildlife Matter
There is an absolute need to save our flora and fauna in the forests for the following reasons:
It is all about breathing: Without oxygen, no living organisms can survive. Roughly 20.9% of earth’s gases consist of oxygen and dependence on oxygen is higher, hence plants are essential.
It plays a specific and significant role in the carbon cycle by absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
It is home for different species: Modernization has caused deforestation. This has led many animals to become homeless, leading to the death of these animals in most cases because of unfavorable conditions.
Provides employment: Forests provide a source of livelihood to millions around the world. Raw materials that can later be sold come from these forests.
Forests provide wood: Wood serves as an important raw material for manufacturing industries as well as commercial purposes not only animals and plants, millions of people still live in the forests and in its vicinity. They survive from the abundant resources that forests have to offer.
Rescue during natural disasters: Vegetation in forests helps during floods as they seep in and absorb all the water, thereby preventing damage to infrastructure.
Key Points on Conservation of Forest and Wildlife
Deforestation also referred to as degradation or loss of forests needs to be controlled or hopefully stopped.
Fuelwood and timber should be used wisely and not wasted.
Forest fire needs to be monitored and damage control measures need to be taken at the right time. Every year, lakhs of trees are destroyed because of forest fires. 2018 saw one of the deadliest wildfires ever in the history of California causing severe damage to property and life.
Measures and interest need to be channeled towards regrowing trees and increasing the land cover for forests. Reforestation and afforestation need to be promoted throughout the world.
Proper forest management bodies need to be enforced to monitor wildlife actions and update on the latest.
Care and habitation need to be provided to extinct species and efforts need to be taken to save them from becoming extinct.
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