What is up nature’s sleeve

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Arshid Malik

Something is up the sleeve of nature. It is October and it feels like July. Is anyone concerned out there?
Forests are home to two-thirds of all plant and animal species and provide invaluable benefits to all humans. They filter the air we breathe and the water we drink, reduce soil erosion and landslides and act as a buffer against global warming. They also provide us with myriad products from furniture to paper and with life-saving medicines. A large part of land in the Kashmir valley is covered by thick forests. The sad and unfortunate fact is that the forest cover has decreased over the past few decades to a large extent. This decrease is sure to tell upon the climate of the Valley, the natural supply of water that we receive in the shape of rainfall and snow, besides having some hazardous impacts on the life patterns of the people of the Valley on environmental fronts.
The decrease in the forest cover is largely attributed to the pilferage and plunder that has been witnessed on counts of illegal felling of trees on a very large scale and to some extent the lax attitude of the concerned authorities who are getting paid to protect this irreplaceable wealth. There is great need for initiatives at protecting the forest wealth in Kashmir, failing which we may see a complete deterioration of the ecosystems in the Valley as also drastic changes in the climate which we might not really be equipped to face. While as the bigger initiatives that are expected to come off at the hands of the big organizations and the state establishment are not apparent, it is the common people here who have to take some initiatives for checking the plunder of forest wealth by reporting smuggling and illegal felling of trees to the concerned authorities and at the same time cutting down on the use of timber and its by products. This may not be all! The people here need to start a plantation drive at the individual or the community level to help maintain the ecological balance.  
Forests play a central role in the world’s environmental and economic heath and yet they are in crisis. The case may be far more accentuated as concerns the valley of Kashmir which is basically an agrarian society and therefore much more dependent and interwoven on/with the green cover. There has been a marked change in the climate in the Valley in the past decade and that may very well be owing to the large scale felling of forests. There may be other devastating effects of deforestation that may not be visible now, but would be more than apparent in the coming few decades. Thus there is great need for the people to aid conserving forests besides taking up community or local level organization based plantation drives.
Conserving forests is nothing less than conserving life. It’s in our own best interest and it’s vitally important to the health of the whole planet. Forests are the storehouse of biological diversity, home to two-thirds of all plants and animals. As well, they supply many of our most basic needs: shelter, food, clean water, oxygen and medicines. Forests share their natural wealth and diversity for our livelihoods and lifestyles, prevent severe water run-off and regulate climate. We must also remember the cultural, spiritual and recreational joys they give, keeping in view the cultural and traditional values of our land.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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