Just as we need water to survive, so also we need oxygen to survive in this planet. One of the main storehouses or sources of oxygen are the vast stretches of forest reserves that exist on our planet. For ages, forests have played a vital role in the survival of the human race. However this very human race has failed to recognise the importance of forests in their lives and has taken drastic steps to destroy them though deforestation.

Deforestation is the removal of trees on a huge scale for fulfilling the requirements of the ever growing human population. Today it has become a global problem that has taken the form of a mighty demon that tends to threaten the very existence of the human race. Reckless and selfish activities of man have resulted in clearing huge areas of forest for several purposes like building settlements, cultivation, timber, forest fuels, mining activities, paper and boat productions, industrial interests, etc.

Importance of forests
Forests play a crucial role in maintaining the environmental cycle of our planet. They retain the freshness of the environment by producing oxygen and removing huge volumes of carbon dioxide gas and other pollutants from the environment. They also cause rainfall in many areas. Huge tree covers act as natural barriers to winds and cyclones and protects the adjacent settlements from grave destructions. Trees and plants prevent soil erosion by improving the holding capacity of the soil. Several medicines are prepared from the leaves and various other parts of trees and plants. Trees also regulate the water cycle and provide habitation for insects, birds and animals.

Our ancestors did realize all these benefits of the forests and took appropriate care of them. Some of them even worshiped several trees and plants as a gratitude for the benefits they received from them. However, modern man seems to have forgotten all these benefits and have picked up axes and other tools to clear forest to meet his own selfish demands.

Present scenario and its consequences
In the last century, huge areas of our planet were covered with the forests. However, in the present century almost 80 percent of the forest cover has been cleared by man. Even the rain forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Some greedy people are recklessly felling trees for the wood and to earn more money, thereby endangering the lives of the wild animals. However, we have to remember one important fact and that is the adverse consequences of deforestation are faster than the process of deforestation itself. This is quite evident from the recent environmental and ecological imbalances that have cropped up in our society presently.

Whenever trees are burned or destroyed by any means they release methane and carbon dioxide, both of which are green house gases and greatly contribute to global warming. Indiscriminate cutting down of tress have resulted in the loss of the habitat of different animals species. As a result, many animals are today migrating from their natural habitat. Instances of flood, cyclone, soil erosion, air pollution, natural calamities, man-animal conflicts, etc. have drastically increased in the last few years. All these events have adversely affected the human health and the world economy, both directly and indirectly.

Solution to the problem
"Little strokes fell great oaks." So as students we do not have to carry out great feats to save our environment, but little efforts from our end can bring about great changes. Cutting trees is not bad; however felling it permanently is bad. If one is cutting a tree, then he should replant some more on the same spot or in the surrounding places. Recycling of paper and paper products is an effective way of reducing the need for cutting of trees. As far as possible, we should avoid the unnecessary use of paper products such as facial tissues, paper kitchen towels, etc. Replacing paper products with other material products is also an effective way of combating deforestation. For instance, paper bags can be replaced with jute bags for carrying our belongings.

The government should conduct awareness programmes in the urban, rural and tribal areas to educate the people about the importance of trees and plants in our lives and also make them aware of the perils related with clearing of forests. Forest guards of our country should be well trained and equipped with modern ammunitions to efficiently tackle the poaching menace.

Forests are very essential for our survival and also for the survival of our future generations. They enable us to enjoy and live a peaceful and healthy life in a clean and green environment. So as responsible citizens of our planet, let us not remain aloof to the deforestation issue but join hands to fight and triumph over this demon.

© Arked Infotech 2015

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