Tree plantation by VVIPs not a ceremony | Arunachal needs to take a cue from Forest Man of India-I

PM Narendra Modi plants tree in Raj Bhwan as Governor Brig (retd) B D Mishra & CM Pema Khandu watch

Beyond the Horizon

By Pradeep Kumar

Tree plantation of by VIPs and VVIPs during their visit to any pace is considered a ceremony and official releases mention the dignitaries took part in ceremonial tree plantation. It will be foolhardy to consider tree plantation by anyone anywhere in India as ceremony as trees are life givers on earth.

With dangerous impacts of climate change threatening existence of life on earth, tree plantation should be intensified by all sections of the society.

I have already highlighted in this column – We may go China way if environment not protected! in September 30 edition of this daily that “Survival of living beings on the earth will be threatened, if urgent steps are not taken to end such degradation due to mindless actions of human beings.  Trees and plants are live givers by generating oxygen and there senseless destruction would deplete oxygen production when life will stand questioned.

It may be mentioning here that earth scientist Dr Manoranjan Mishra while imparting training on ‘Environment protection & conservation’, organized by Vishwa Yuavak Kendra & Sikkim’s Environment Conservation Society at Geyzling in West Sikkim recently had apprehended that if the impacts of climate change continued, who knows after 50 years every human being will have to carry an oxygen cylinder to breath for survival as atmosphere would lack required amount of fresh oxygen.  Dr Mishra, a resource person of over a dozen countries on climate change, quoted from his experience.  China could be cited as the best example.

“China is one of the most polluted countries on earth. The latest fad in China is literally offering its city dwellers a breath of fresh air. Numerous fresh air stations have been set up in some of China’s most polluted cities. The stations are stocked with individual air bags which provide users with pollution-free fresh air.

However, it is high time for India to recall its own feat of breaking Guinness World Record with 1.5 million volunteers of Madhya Pradesh planting 66 million tree saplings along the bank of Narmada River just in 12-hour on 03.07.17.

“I am extremely proud to happily share that people of Madhya Pradesh successfully planted 6.63 crore saplings today,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had boasted the achievement: One crore is 10 million. “I am greatly indebted to all who are planting trees today. We will be contributing significantly in saving nature. By participating in a plantation, people are contributing their bit to climate change initiatives and saving the environment,” Chouhan had told India.com. This had drawn the attention of Chirs Baynes to publish it in INDEPENDENT.

The mass-planting event aimed at raising awareness on plan to “make India green again”. However, India at the Paris climate conference had pledged to increase forest cover to 95 million hectares by 2030 by spending $6.2 billion.

India is the world’s third largest generator of carbon emissions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reaffirmed India’s commitment to Paris Climate Accord after the US withdrew from the deal. “The protection of the environment and the mother planet is an article of faith,” he had said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Beware: Assam & Arunachal face green cover loss

A study carried out by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing has predicted a depletion of 9,007.14 sqkm (2.94%) of forests in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by 2028, a national daily had reported on 23.08.18.

The study, Forest Cover Monitoring and Prediction in a Lesser Himalayan Elephant Landscape, published in the current issue of Current Science, says deforestation and loss of wildlife habitat in Upper Assam is likely to influence not only adjoining Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh but lower Assam as well. The Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) is under Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Scientists involved in the study said they monitored the depletion of forest cover in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh over 42,375 sqkm in an elephant landscape falling in the Lesser Himalaya in the Northeast.

The study, which covered a vast elephant landscape spread across West Bengal-Assam, Assam-Bhutan and Assam-Arunachal Pradesh borders in the lesser Himalayas, found a loss of about 7,590 sqkm (17.92%) of forest cover from 1924 to 2009. This was also found by US army topographic maps (1924) and multi-date satellite images.

The forest cover of 2028 was predicted using the 2000-2009 depletion of forests study and Cellular Automata Markov Model (CAMM). As elephants are long-ranging animals and are distributed across the landscape, it is important to carry out studies covering large areas to address the habitat status over time, which can be used for effective habitat conservation.

“More districts of Assam than Arunachal Pradesh and more plains than hills faced deforestation. We have identified increasing human population and subsequent demand on land for cultivation as major reasons for forest cover depletion. With the highest rate of deforestation (in the Assam-Arunachal area) in India, the study area can also be addressed as the deforestation hotspot of India,” the study says.

The annual rate of deforestation was found to be higher in Assam than Arunachal Pradesh primarily due to the latter’s inhospitable mountainous terrain. Among the districts in Assam, the highest deforestation was noticed in Barpeta, followed by Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Dibrugarh and Sonitpur during the 85-year study period.

Area-wise, the largest amount of forest cover loss was noticed in Dhemaji (1,419.99 sqkm) followed by Sonitpur (825.85 sqkm), Lohit in Arunachal (820.61 sqkm), Tinsukia (662.28 sq km) and Lakhimpur (635.15 sqkm).

Of the 9,000 square km forest cover loss prediction, Assam and Arunachal are predicted to lose around 670.55 sq km of moist deciduous dense forest by 2028. “If the same rate of deforestation continues, it is expected that moist deciduous open, sal dense, tropical semi-evergreen dense and tropical wet evergreen dense forests will further deplete by 251.43, 66.86, 94.78 and 82.99 square km respectively,” the study says.

“The recent studies made by IIRS clearly reveal the deterioration of forest canopy in the region. Planting trees are fine but we need to work towards revitalising the forest ecosystem. Lack of forest cover shall bring further chaos from food and water security point of view in Assam. Our government must act to restore forest cover to avoid natural disasters. Political and social leaders need to act proactively to enable people live in harmony with nature so that the nature’s ability to provide free oxygen and potable water is not disturbed,” according to Aaranyak and IRF Asia coordinator CEO Bibhab Talukdar.

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