Promoting afforestation

Since time immemorial, forests have been cleared for different reasons. One of the main reasons forest covers are destroyed is the agricultural need of the people. Similarly, forests are also lost to what we call development efforts. Sometimes fire massively eats up forest covers, while humans also use fire as an instrument to clear forests.

The rise in population is the main factor causing pressure on the existing forests of the world. Also, owing to the increase in the price of fossil fuels and increasing demand for farmland for cultivation, there has been a rapid loss of forest trees in many countries. Scientists said in 2015 that the Earth has lost more than half of its trees since humans first learned how to wield the axe.

Realising the impending perils of forest destruction, many countries have started launching various programmes to protect their forest covers. About 100,000 million dollars a year in the international aid is being spent on forestry. Governments of many countries are investing many times more domestically. However, there has not been any satisfactory progress yet.

To develop the forest wealth of a country, afforestation programmes play as much a significant role as the imposition of the systematic and scientific felling of trees. To encourage local people in such programmes, saplings which grow into trees of fruit and ornamental values should be distributed.

There has been a lot of research work to find species of trees which grow fast and provide other agricultural benefits such as adding nutrients to the soil or producing valuable fruits or leaves. Though some varieties of trees are fast growing in nature and more beneficial to the soil, tree husbandry in the villages do not have to wait unless new saplings are made available. Actually, any tree is better than none, and the crucial first step will be helping small landholders to become aware that their trees are valuable resources and should be carefully managed.

Today, many people, especially in rural areas, are bearing the brunt of the scarcity of fuel due to the loss of trees. Therefore, afforestation is indispensable in these areas for which the role and selection of rural members become important. A local organisational system that can provide assurance to the rural people as regards to their access to the plantation of saplings of ornamental values is also equally essential.

Forests are key to climate, water, health and livelihoods.