By Arbind Kumar

Human civilization flourished due to river and forest and both are like rooftop on the planet. Historians consider, they were driving force behind development of civilizations across the globe. Water bodies on the earth are the part of cycle that connects to the universe. Vibrant and lively Rivers carried out alluvial soil and due to availability of enough water to irrigate, crop production increased rapidly. Similarly, forest also played an important role in development of civilization. As discovery of iron made possible hunting/gathering, so fire made cooking possible. Industrial pollution adversely affected biosphere in industrialization phase. Thereafter hole in ozone layer discovered and melting of glacier in Antarctica were also noticed. Forest plays vital role in controlling the temperature of the earth. More danger is in blanket that covers the earth, i.e. ozone layer. Ozone layer protects us from ultraviolet rays that come from super star of Milky Way, the sun. Ultraviolet rays cause skin cancer.

Close link-Forest and climate is closely linked and dramatic change in one will influence the other. The paleoecological evidence indicated this fact. In a scientific report, 20 to 30% plants and animal species would be at increased risk of extinction if global average temperature exceeded 2 to 3% above the pre-industrial level.

Danger-Upper Himalayas, northern and central parts of Western Ghats and some parts of central India are most vulnerable to climate change. Himalayan ecosystem is considered extremely sensitive to climate change. Himachal Pradesh is the part of Himalayan mountain ecosystem, hosts a wide range of natural resources and state has unique forests and diverse habitats. Any change in temperature and rainfall will adversely impact the entire ecosystem.

Tribal resolve – Here is an inspirational story of Ujiyaro Bai of Baiga tribe of Madhya Pradesh. In an eye opener story, she asks, ‘I have forest, do you have?’ Ujiyaro Bai crusade against tree logging got prominence in international media when she got an invitation to attend United Nation world forestry congress, held in South Africa. Story unfolds the truth that how an uneducated lady of primitive tribe resolve’s paves the ways.

Story-One day, Ujiyaro Bai was on her way to collect leaves early in the morning. In the meantime, she spotted cut marks on several trees. Trees-animal-life is an important part of tribal life. Logging trees means losing something in the life of tribal. Cross marks on tress signaled something was to happen wrong. She feared and sat down under a large tree to notice if anyone coming to log or not. Sooner she got under the tree; dozen people appeared and started axing tree. She raised her voice and collected her fellow Pondi villagers and collectively protested and asked invader to leave the area. Since then, 8years now, she dedicated her life in conservation of forest around Baiga Chakka belt in Umaria destrict of MP. Her effort gained momentum when other women got inspired with her vision that trees are important for life. She, along with others, started awareness drive against fire in forest. Her effort gained momentum and she became prominent face in conservation of trees.

Fact-Baiga of Madhya Pradesh is primitive tribe and about 65% of its population resides in six districts off Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. They live mostly in Dindori and Umaria of Madhya Pradesh. Pondi village too falls under the Baiga-Chak Belt (BCB).

-Forest-Inherent danger-

Why forest- Deforestation leads to land erosion. Trees play an important role in maintaining the surface of the mountains and cause natural barriers to the rapidly rising rain water that causes floods.

Soil Fertility:  Less rainfall affects water volume in river, therefore affects agriculture directly.

Air Pollution: Pollution increases risk level. Pollution havoc created in Delhi, when it became gas chamber.

Extinction of species: Due to the destruction of forests, wildlife is disappearing. Many species disappeared (such as Asiatic cheetah, Namdapha flying squirrel, Himalayan wolf, Elvira rat, Andaman shrew, Jenkins’ shrew, Nicobar shrew, etc) and many are on the verge of extinction.

Global Warming: Deforestation means increase in global temperature. With decreasing forests rainfall becomes irregular.

Water Resources: Tree works like filter in rainy seasons. Thus ground water level increases. Ground water level is going down in many cities.

Industrialization: Trees prevent toxic gases from dissolving in the atmosphere.

Ozone layer: CFC increase in the atmosphere adversely affects ozone layer.

And hope-Amid diminishing forest areas in the country, a hopeful report is released by the Modi government. ‘In 2015, total area covered in the country was 7.01 lakh square kilometer and it increased to 7.08lakh square km in 2017. Thus 21.54% of total land area of our country is under forest. So the land under forest increased 6778 km in two year, biennial report released by cabinet minister Harshvardhan says. However the rate of increase in forest land is mere 1%. 33% land of 15 states is under forest, of which 7 states’ 75 per cent land is under forest. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa and Telangana witnessed maximum land under forest increase over two years, whereas in Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunanchal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalya witnesses’ maximum land decrease under forest. Madhya Pradesh has maximum 77, 414 sq km land under forest. Arunanchal Pradesh (66, is second and Chhattisgarh is third state with 55.547sq. km. land under forest. India is in top-10 country in the world, report adds.

‘A plant is the best gift to next generation.’

Writer is Journalist and soft skill trainer. E-mails: Cell no-91-9424753979.