With massive industrialization and the rapid increase in the population of the world, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America we have seen the depletion of forests, tree-covered areas and agricultural lands. Much of this sad state of affairs is due to ignorance, apathy and indifference. However, the new generation is well aware of the importance of the environment and a healthy ecological balance to sustain the globe, people and animals. And here lies our hope. Governmental indifference or lack of effort is being countered by personal and collective private, citizen efforts, so we need not lose hope.
The scale of the destruction has developed into an extent where there is soil erosion and resultant flooding in mostly catchment areas, not sparing even low lands today. The situation needs to be arrested and managed in the next 10 years or so and efforts have to be multiplied by all concerned for mother earth and her well-being.
Indiscriminate and unscientific cutting of forests and trees, without a replacement strateg--rather enhancement strategy--given population increases, has led to soil erosion, pollution, deforestation, loss of animal habitat, loss of fertile lands, and global warming.
South Asia has not been spared this destruction with most of the depletion of forests being witnessed in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to a powerful "Timber Mafia" operating in both countries. Pakistan has a deficient forested area of 3.6% whereas a healthy average these days is 35%. We need to develop plans that are serious, wide-ranging and that aim at creating, apart from returning, forests to the mountainous regions as well as to forested areas on the plains. Resources for this can easily be met from local actors and institutions, needing no external inputs. Motivation and hard-work are the main ingredients and readily available in plenty, only needing harnessing. The costs of nurseries are secondary. Emphasis should also be placed upon renewable forests or forested areas outside towns/around agrarian belts. Planting trees on farmlands as shelterbelts and wind-breaks not only protects crops but ensures good soil, the availability of fire-wood, etc., supporting the agrarian economy in a big way.
The way forward for future governments is to invigorate forest departments by getting these to coordinate and cooperate with NGOs, concerned individuals, schools, the private sector, and local government, in developing and executing well laid out plans for: 1. Social Forestry, 2. Reforestation, 3. Popularization of the concept of Individual Scattered Trees, 4. The Development of Agro Forestry, 5. The Declaration of Protected Areas(9% today) and Bio-Diversity where indiscriminate future logging will be prohibited and species protected. And lastly, 6. The prevention of excessive grazing in areas short of greenery.
In conjunction with these measures strict penalties need to be imposed on unlawful cutting/logging with curbs on local smuggling. A fair share of resources should also be offered to the locals of the areas. And a scientific and effective monitoring system needs to be put in place that will ensure the success of plans.
Without putting carbon back into the soil which has been accumulating over the years from deforrestation and the burning of fossil fuels that were otherwise lying dormant underground all through millennia, global warming will never be checked, let alone reversed. We need to take nature seriously as it protects and sustains us in a perfect balance. Nature is a gift to mankind and its appreciation, thanks rendered, and concern for its balanced continuation are imperative for the well-being and survival of mankind.
Let us bring a change in our will. Let us use our main and free investment: Motivation! Global Green is doing just that. Do join us.
Younus Shad, Advocate.