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Harm In The Name of Good


UNGA proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests to raise awareness about forests. However, the plan of affore4station alone has not helped forest cover creation and has also caused ecological problems.


GS-III: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Dimensions of the Article

  • Afforestation: Is it the way to go?
  • About Forests: Are they trees only?
  • Issues with simple afforestation: Examples
  • How to proceed with Afforestation
  • Way Forward

Afforestation: Is it the way to go?

  • Indian government has spent a lot in afforestation programs and drives.
  • Recently, Rs 19,000 Cr has been launched for afforestation.
  • Greater question lies in the question that will afforestation create forests alone.

About Forests: Are they trees only?

  • Forests must be understood as a complex ecosystem.
  • Several species of trees, animals, mammals, reptiles, insects etc. and their interactions form the core of a forest ecosystem.
  • Carbon Storage and Pollution reduction not the only ecological functions of the forests.
  • Its benefits also are determined by the type of species and the location of its plantation.

Issues with simple Afforestation: Examples

  • Forest and the local ecosystem become less resilient.
  • Example – Habitat of Great Indian Bustard has been affected because natural grasslands have been converted to wooded areas due to random plantation of trees.
  • Ranibennur Wildlife Sanctuary, Jayamangali Conservation Reserve hosted wolves but now hosts leopards due to its conversion of plantation and introduction of new species..
  • Native tree plantation too is not very effective since native species of one region in India differs from another.
  • Ecological Criterion and Scientific thinking is missing from the afforestation programs.

How to proceed with Afforestation?

  • Aim should not be only to plant trees randomly and aggressively but to take local biodiversity into account.
  • Understanding of native species and their ecological interactions is of importance.
  • One should also plant the right tree at the right place for trees.

Way Forward

Afforestation must not be thought of as quota which the society needs to complete. It should be viewed as a holistic exercise for protecting the environment. Assisted Natural Regeneration can be adopted to overcome the various issues associated. Furthermore, forest conservation must include wildlife and other areas. We can’t be investing in creating forests and degrading our natural ones

Source – The Hindu

April 2024