What is Reforestation?
Reforestation is the consequence of deforestation which according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is a complete clearance of trees. Deforestation is usually planned and deliberate felling of trees and the land cleared is used for activities which are not related to the forest.
The act of re-growing trees in an area or land surface is reforestation. Reforestation is replanting of trees in a stretch of terrain which had for some reason lost its forest cover. Reforestation is a planned or deliberate movement to regrow vegetation lost due to human activity, natural calamity or sudden climate change.
With increasing environmental awareness, a global initiative has been taken to regenerate lost forest hamlets across the world.
Reforestation is not the same as afforestation, though both are directed towards propagating greenery. Afforestation is the endeavour to forest an area which originally had no tree cover. It is the effort to create a new forest in a previously unforested area or a part of land that was not under forest cover.
Reforestation on the other hand is repopulating an area which has lost its tree population. It is an initiative different countries are undertaking to maintain ecological balance. Various communities, NGOs, are relentlessly working towards reforestation.
In a recent address, on the 21st of March, 2016, earmarked as ‘International Forest Day’, the Secretary-General of the United Nations expressed concern about depletion of trees. And forests. He emphasized that forests are necessary if the planet and its inhabitants are to survive. He focused on the interdependence of forest, global climate stability and healthy living. The United Nations have designed ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to safeguard forests because they provide resources for sustenance and survival.
Reforestation is a scientific process because it is not just planting trees. The system requires adequate knowledge of the climate, the landform, the soil type of the area. So to re-establish a forest community, it is important to select those trees or plant species that will thrive in the area. Then only can the forest cover be renewed.
With the turn of the century reforestation has become a global agenda. It includes taking account of the forests, woodlands, natural parks that have almost ceased to exist due to injudicious deforestation and assist in it recovering as much as possible the natural vegetation of that region.
Causes of Deforestation
Two primary reasons that led to mass scale deforestation are:-
Effect of Industrialization
We are facing a global environmental crisis since rapid industrialization changed the landscape of the earth. Agricultural lands were turned into factories disturbing the fragile ecosystem.
As machines replaced the plough, laborers replaced the farmers. This led to an influx of people from the villages to the recently formed industrial areas seeking work.
Large forest areas were literally cleared to provide housing for the workers, build roads and lay down railway tracks.
Thus forests began to retreat.
Another important reason that led to rapid deforestation is urbanization. It is an ongoing process. As more and more people moved away from the villages cities expanded encroaching forest land to build high-rises.
As industries expanded, new townships grew up, better means of communication became inevitable. Trees were felled and metallic roads, bridges, underground and surface railways were constructed. There was no plan to plant new saplings to make up the loss.
Importance of Reforestation
Checking biodiversity loss
Today we are standing at the threshold of an imminent crisis with rapid climate change, global warming and greenhouse effect. The earth is gradually losing its biodiversity as more and more animals are forced out of their natural habitat. The only way to check these adverse effects is reforestation.
Reducing carbon dioxide in the air
Human life is facing the ill effects of environmental crisis. Lack of trees and smoke released from factories, automobiles, has polluted the urban air. Reforestation is the simplest way to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Plants soak in carbon dioxide from the air, helps in precipitation and lowering surface temperature. If we rapidly lose vegetation the average temperature will continue to rise. Melting glaciers will raise the sea-level, and there will be drastic climatic changes.
Fighting global warming
Plants help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and significantly decreases the presence of toxic gases like methane. So only through planned reforestation the effects of deforestation can be checked and global warming can be reduced. Forest are natural effective carbon sink. Carbon given out from burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the forests.
Deforestation and urbanization has been a constant threat to the flora and fauna of any area. We have lost numerous valuable plants and many animals are facing threats to near extinction. Reforestation will not only check environmental pollution but help to preserve wildlife. In addition to the climate benefits, reforestation has the potential to preserve endangered species. A recovering forest restores habitat loss and degradation and threats to species health.
Erosion and watersheds
It is evident that rapid felling of trees leading to deforestation of large parts of the globe, led to soil erosion. This in turn affected agriculture, landslides and flash floods. To reverse this situation, we need reforestation. The roots hold on to the soil and prevent run off of the top soil. This preserves the fertility of the soil. Forest restoration can reverse the damage done by erosion. Reforestation will revive the watersheds which are important aspects of environmental well-being.
Advantages of Reforestation
Oxygen Carbon dioxide balance
Reforestation activities promote the gradual depletion of CO2 from the atmosphere through absorption during photosynthesis. This in turn reduces its concentration in the atmosphere. The process of photosynthesis release oxygen and therefore helps to maintain the CO2/O2 balance. Less carbon dioxide means less pollution and less global warming.
Preventing soil erosion
Another environmental hazard caused by deforestation is erosion. The trees prevent or reduce soil erosion and water contamination. The roots of trees serve as natural nets spreading extensively into the ground to hold the soil in place. As soil runoff is prevented essential nutrients are retained and the soil remain fertile. Trees add manure to the soil from falling leaves and dried branches.
Maintain water cycle
Forests maintain the water cycle of the area by absorbing moisture through the leaves and roots. They are a natural storage system of rainwater and slows down the aridity of the atmosphere. Trees prevent fresh water lakes from losing moisture and drying up.
The trees release some of the water they absorb as water vapor from its leaves. This is the process of transpiration; this helps to restores moisture of the atmosphere and helps maintain the temperature in the local environment.
Forests have always been a great source of economy. The paper factory is dependent on wood pulp supplied from trees. Lumbering had been the main occupation of the people in the coniferous region. When a forest is properly managed and saplings planted regularly, then forests are sustainable source of timber.
Forests provide employment to the local people who gather forest products and turn them into handicraft. A global cottage industry with no pollution!
Photo by: flickr
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Deforestation, Reforestation, and Afforestation
The continuous evolution of digital technology across written, audio, and pictorial media has resulted in each medium of expression having an ever-improving capability to create and to share our personal expressions of gratification. That is to say, if we wish to share things, we have by virtue of video, camera, tape recordings, and written text, the ability to create live-action films, pictorial mementos, the sweet sounds of music, and the voices of our loved ones. We can re-create endearing words of our own heartfelt feelings; and these days we have the tools to do it ourselves.
Video of animated, active children tells us a story, whether or not we know or understand the story we see on film. Still photos also tell us a story, although the animation and action may be missing. Tape recordings contain the sounds of the action and the dialogue of those who are the subject of the recordings. And written text communicates the personal views of the person writing the text. When you put them all together, all of the media enable us to communicate with others in ways that are more sophisticated than we perhaps realize.
If the main purposes of communication are: To Instruct…To Inform…To Entertain, then each medium of the modern forms of communication are sharp tools created to do our bidding. Perhaps the oldest medium and the most ubiquitous tool is the written word. It is also the most versatile in many ways because modern word processing technology allows practitioners to blend in photos and videos into communiques with others. In addition, the written word allows the writer to explain the content of videos and photos that may not be apparent to others. Internal editors within computer programs also allow for additions and edits to the text, to further explain or clarify the text. In the case of recordings, the written text allows the writer to interpret the words and the sounds on the recording, if that is necessary.
As a forester, the subject of good forest and land management has always been the compass by which I am guided. To the layman who only observes the state of affairs of environmental circumstances by a cursory or passing viewing of snapshots or short documentary videos, an underlying analysis or the pros and cons of land management may never rise to the level of contemplation beyond what is offered in the photos or videos, themselves. That is the bailiwick of the professional land manager. But without transmitting a clear understanding of what is good management, what is bad management, and what proposed improvements might look like, land managers are constrained in their ability to secure the financial and administrative support needed to maximize their effectiveness. All too often, that support is tied directly or indirectly to political encouragement and backing at the local, state and national levels. When it comes to support at the national level, the needed resources are almost exclusively tied to political support, from which financial backing flows. Or not.
To a typical layman, some environmental issues pique their interest by way of verbal comments. Standalone comments, as filters through which the issues migrate upward or downward in seeming importance, do; however, weigh on where the issues land on the scale of national priorities. Land management issues may be vitally important in the scheme of national or even global priorities, but public opinion and survey polls have a way of distorting their actual significance.
Going beyond the philosophical background of forest and land management practices as intellectual precedents, the pedestrian viewpoint may always be the controlling stimulus. A few raw observations may be used as examples. DEFORESTATION is bad for the environment. REFORESTATION is good for the environment. AFFORESTATION is an unknown land management practice, thus does not rise to the level of significant interest in polling results. In general, most people might agree with those findings but land managers must take careful stock what is actually meant by deforestation, reforestation, and afforestation; and then tailor their approaches to minimize the negative aspects and maximize the positives. The long, involved process is not as obvious as it might seem.
For example, cutting down trees in the tropics or elsewhere does not equate to deforestation. It could mean selective harvesting of forest products, with a view to improving existing stands and with the goal of sustainable yields in the future.
Are these sawn logs a part of a logging operation or an indication of deforestation?
Reforestation is generally regarded as a good thing, but there have been plenty of cases wherein the choice of species used in reforestation have proven to be unsuccessful, ill-suited to the climates or the soils where they were planted, or incompatible with the needs and/or wants of the local populations regarding their expectations. Land managers must first obtain support for reforestation efforts but then must be successful to a sufficient degree if they are ever going to attract future administrative, financial and political support.
Private companies and landowners who own the land and pay taxes on them are inclined to replant and replenish. The old adage that if you cut a tree you should plant a tree, has been followed for decades. Statistics from some commercial forestry operations in the United States show that for every tree cut, there are 11 or more trees planted to replace them. That is an example of recycling. Recycling also applied to other countries that deal with forest management issues.
But we don't support recycling just to "save" trees. Unlike nonrenewable materials like steel and aluminim, we can always grow more trees. And we do. Last year, forest landowners planted nearly 1.7 billion seedlings and managed the natural generation of millions of other trees--creating two and half million acres of new, growing forest. Which means: In the United States, at least, for decades, we've been growing more wood than is harvested or lost to insects and disease. As a result, since the beginning of the 1980s, America's total forest base has actually increased by 27 million acres.
There are many benefits to reforestation
Afforestation is becoming increasingly popular in desert lands.
Anything that can be said about deforestation and modern large-scale campaigns of reforestation might also have a common link to afforestation. By definition, afforestation is the process of re-establishing forest and/or shrubs to land that previously contained forests and shrubs, or was never vegetated. Thus, choosing the species that meet societal needs, ideally on a sustainable basis, within the context of the present day biological imperatives of climate, soils and population pressures are huge challenges. The factors that caused the land to become deforested in the past may be the same ones that newly afforested land may face in the future, not least of which are the demands made on the land by uncontrolled access by humans and grazing animals.