“It’s all driving us crazy,” said Chopra, who lives in the Himalayan town of Dehradun. We have to pay a heavy price to cut down our forests. Ravi Chopra runs an organization that works to protect the environment He is now sorry for cutting down trees to widen two roads in Dehradun
Trees are being cut down in full force for roads, electricity and other projects across the country. According to official data, 83,000 hectares of forest have been cut down between 2016 and 2022. Five per cent of this was in reserved lands in national parks etc. The pressure of development in India is so great that the established forests of the country are constantly shrinking. But the government says it is restoring forests by planting trees in other areas.
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The Indian government has set a target of planting more forests by 2030, which could absorb 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon. Through this the government wants to achieve its climate change target. But critics say planting trees instead of felled trees cannot compensate for the forest. Experts say that deforestation and replanting can reduce carbon dioxide levels but replenish a full forest is a bad option.
Recommendation to close the tree planting project
The Supreme Court of India constituted a seven-member expert committee tasked with studying the alternative of planting trees instead of deforestation. The committee called on the government to stop planning to plant 1,000 trees per hectare.
The committee said intensive tree planting may seem like an attractive short-term plan, but in reality it tends to plant fast-growing trees that are not native to the area.
In some places, the policy could be harmful to the ecosystem and financially, the committee’s report said. The report concludes that tree planting should be done according to the needs of the local ecosystem instead of a uniform system everywhere. The report gives the example of Gujarat where a tree brought from outside has occupied the local grassland. These grasslands were part of the ecology as cattle grazing and black deer habitat.
Jigmet Takpa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment, India, said that due to the large population of India, it is normal for resources such as land and forests to come under pressure. He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Every time the government launches a project for the welfare of the people, it has become a fashion to criticize in the name of environment. But we respect what the committee’s report says. It is known and implemented.”
In January last year, the Indian government released a report on the state of forests, stating that the country’s forest area had increased by 2,261 sq km, or about 4.5 million football fields. The last two years. But experts say this is not enough.
Kanchi Kohli, an environmental policy expert at the Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, says that by focusing only on carbon emissions, the government is also risking population growth from the same tree, which could threaten the local ecosystem and the traditional environment. Biodiversity.
He explained, “The report is based on satellite data, focusing on domestic and international climate change targets. It does not include loss of natural forests and damage to the local economy and biodiversity.”
As far as reducing carbon emissions is concerned, not all experts agree on the current policy. Forrest Fleismann, a forest and governance policy expert at the University of Minnesota in the United States, says the policy has no meaning. “When mature trees are cut down, their ability to absorb carbon is immediately lost whereas it takes many years for new plants to develop that ability,” he said. And it also depends on the trees that have been planted. They will actually grow, which in our opinion. Research, however, does not happen often. Research shows that new plantations can never replace mature forests in terms of carbon storage. ”