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Ever since humans evolved, we have changed the land cover of the earth gradually. Consequently, one of the most pressing issues today is the conservation of forest. However, we need to understand the definition of the forest first:
“Forests are defined as large areas of land with trees.”
There are over 800 definitions of forest that are used around the world. And it is not necessary that an area has to be populated with trees for it to be deemed as a forest. And in some cases, an area can be legally designated as a forest, regardless of the type of local vegetation. Overall, forests are the natural habitat of large scale wildlife, growth of trees, shrubs and different variety of plants which, unfortunately, are dwindling every year. Hence, conservation of forest is an important responsibility that all of us have to undertake.
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, provides clean air and shelter. Also, forests help conserve biodiversity.
Forests provide many resources such as food, medicine, fabric, and raw materials. Apart from keeping a check on the global temperature, forests also contribute towards preventing soil from getting eroded and shelters more than 80% of the animal species and terrestrial biodiversity. They also aid in improving the socioeconomic aspects of a country.
Wildlife refers to the 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.
Also Read: Forests-Our Lifeline
Let us have a detailed look at the conservation of forest and wildlife.
Conservation of Forest
Conservation of forest is the practice of planting more trees and maintaining the forested areas for the sustainability for future generations. Forests are an important natural resource and are beneficial to humans in several ways. But due to increasing deforestation activities, it has become essential to conserve forests throughout the world. Deforestation is the permanent destruction or loss of forests for the expansion of lands for agriculture, livestock, etc. The process of destructing forests for the expansion of agricultural land is referred to as shifting cultivation.
Following are some of the major steps for conservation of forest:
- With the advent of industrialization, several trees have been cut at an alarming rate for raw materials and various other purposes. This felling of trees can be regulated by selective cutting, clear-cutting and shelterwood cutting.
- Forest fires are one of the common causes of loss of forests. Sometimes the forest land is set on fire to make the land available for commercial purposes. Once cleared, there can be no vegetation. Natural forest fires are also responsible for the destruction of huge forest covers. Latest fire fighting techniques should be adopted to conserve the forest. However, forest fires are an important part of the ecosystem and it helps replenish nutrients in the soil from dead and decaying matter.
- More trees should be planted to increase the forest cover. Trees should be selected according to the geographical conditions of a particular region and proper care should be taken during the growth of trees.
- Prevention of exploitation of forestry and forest products is necessary for the conservation of forest.
- The existing forests should be protected from diseases by spraying chemicals, antibiotics or development of pest-resistant strains of trees.
Why is it necessary to save our wildlife, after all, they are just animals and plants?
Wildlife is a very important and vital aspect of our ecosystem. Listed below are a few of the reasons stating the importance of wildlife conservation:
- Important for their medicinal values: More than one-third of our pharmaceutical needs are catered by wild plants. Forests provide great scope for breakthroughs in the field of medical science and technology along with the requirements for the large-scale manufacture of antibiotics and other medicines for therapeutic uses.
- Helps keep our environment healthy: They are responsible for maintaining temperatures globally, thereby fighting against the greenhouse effect and in turn preventing the sea levels to rise sharply.
- Important to maintain ecological balance: the interdependence of plants and animals is very essential
- Economical importance: Fossil fuels obtained from forests help in the economic growth of the country, which in turn contributes towards a better standard of living.
- Helps preserve biodiversity: There are thousands of species that take shelter in these huge forests.
- Microorganisms in wildlife take part in nitrogen fixation, thus, bringing about an increase in the levels of soil fertility
Also Read: Wildlife Sanctuary
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.
- Helps regulate climatic conditions: Forests play a key role in bringing about a balance in the atmospheric temperature.
- Biodiversity at its best: To get a closer view of life, visit a forest. Forests, as we know are home to thousands of species.
- Forests also provide great scope for exploration for science enthusiasts.
- Entertainment: Forest areas these days have been turned into adventure spots to help people get a first-hand experience of wildlife.
Also Read: Flora and Fauna
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 channelled 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.
Also Read: Forests
Frequently Asked Questions
What steps should be taken to conserve forests?
The forests can be conserved in the following manner:
- Introducing afforestation programs.
- Controlling forest fires.
- Proper utilization of forest resources.
- Proper care should be taken to protect the forests from pests and diseases.
Why is it beneficial to conserve forests?
Forests provide us with a variety of resources such as wood, timber, fibre and other raw materials for domestic as well as commercial purposes. They absorb the harmful carbon dioxide gas and maintain the earth’s temperature. They also hold the soil firmly and prevent erosion of soil. This is why it is beneficial to conserve forests.
How can we conserve wildlife?
Wildlife can be conserved by:
- Developing protective areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries to protect the animals in their natural habitat.
- The endangered and vulnerable species can be kept in captivity in places such as zoos and bred to increase their population.
- The cutting of forests should be strictly prohibited. It is an abode of a variety of wild animals.
- Hunting of wild animals should be banned.
Why is it beneficial to protect wildlife?
Wild animals form a part of the food chain. They are responsible for maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. In order to maintain an ecological balance, the wildlife needs to protect.
What are the reasons that have led to wildlife destruction?
Wildlife destruction is caused due to:
- Increasing demand for hides and meat has led to the hunting of animals.
- Cutting down of forests has led to the scarcity of food and space that has killed many animals.
- Frequent floods and earthquakes are the natural causes of wildlife destruction.
What will happen if all the forests are destroyed?
Forests are the major part of an ecosystem. They are an abode to various plants and animals. They maintain environmental balance by inhaling carbon dioxide and regulating rainfall. They provide food and space to animals that help to maintain the ecological balance. If all the forests are destroyed, it will have a severe impact on the environmental balance. There will be frequent earthquakes and floods. The temperature of the earth will rise enormously. Life on earth will be impossible.