August 19, 2016

Reforestation made easy

IN my previous article, which appeared in the 15 August issue of GNLM, I had discussed how deforestations triggered the flooding. However, the adverse effects of the deforestation do not end there. They are one of the driving forces that causes global warming and climate changes that are threatening the whole world without exception for super rich and advanced countries. In fact the most modernized and industrialized nations are the worst hit.
Because of the extensive industrializations, increase in number of vehicles and modern ways of living consuming large amount of electricity, the use of the fossil fuel have drastically increased, leading to excessive carbon emissions in the world today. This in turn led to the Ozone depletion, creating black holes in our atmosphere. The carbon emissions also give rise to the green house effects. The green house effect, which combined with the Ozone depletion causes the global warming resulting in climate change. We had been witnessing the climate change getting more and more worse. The temperatures soared, unprecedented snowfalls, severe droughts in some places while some other places are reeling under heavy downpours resulting in unprecedented flooding and the tropical storms are getting more frequent and stronger, causing havocs in their paths. The weather patterns had drastically changed over the decades and getting more difficult to predict unless equipped with advanced and sophisticated equipment and instruments.
Now, let us see where the role of the deforestation fits-in, in that process of climate change. The function the trees played is to help reduce the level of carbon present in the atmosphere by absorbing them. Due to the depletion of trees, or in other words the deforestation, the carbon level cannot be put under control and thus the chain reactions that lead to the climate change is set in motion.
Various measures are being used today, to curb the carbon emissions, However, I will not be stressing on each and every one of those measures as the objective of this article is to promote awareness of the importance of the trees and hence, the forest. Thus, I would be discussing the reforestation methods that are simple, easy, inexpensive, viable and are proven to be successful. Before proceeding further, I think it would be necessary to know what cause the deforestations.
What Cause the Deforestation?
There are various causes that lead to deforestation. For the purpose of clarification, I will classify them into two categories:-
1.    Natural Disaster
2.    Man-made Disaster
Natural Disaster. Destruction of the forest by the forces of natural can be deemed as being caused by natural disasters. However, taking into consideration the human involvement in the causing of the global warming and the climate change, some disasters that are deemed as naturally inflicted are not what they seemed to be. For instance, the flooding is said to be caused by natural forces. However, if observed with an open mind and rational outlook, one is bound to see the human involvement. Likewise all the other natural disasters too have the human actions, either directly or indirectly, involved. However, if I choose to discuss along that trend, there would be controversies, and as this article is not about deforestation but reforestation, I will accept, as universally accepted, that the natural disaster that could destroy a forest constitute wild fires or forest fires caused by natural forces. Due to the global warming causing the temperatures to rise or for other biological reasons, some trees died and turned into tinders waiting to be ignited. The most common cause of ignition is by sparks from trees rubbing vigorously against one another under strong windy conditions. The sparks can also be produced by falling boulders striking one another. Thunder strikes are also sources of ignition and on rare occasions by falling meteorites falling from outer space.
Man-made Disaster. These could be caused by numerous means. The most common and most devastating is by excessive timber extraction, legally or illegally. Slash and burn farming, which originated in the Stone Age and still being practiced by 200-300 million people worldwide, also add to the deforestation. Mining, industrialization, construction of dams, highways and fuel pipelines of large scales involve clearing of large areas of lush green forest. Environmentalist used to say that modernization and industrialization come at a cost—the destruction of the forest and hence the ecosystem too. Thus it is advisable that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be systematically carried out by competent independent organization and the authorities should pay heed to its findings and recommendations before giving green light to implement large scale projects. Wild fires caused by negligence or arson also contribute to the process of deforestation.
As it is not a scientific paper, but written to instigate awareness, it may not be comprehensive and lacks scientific authenticity.
Reforestation the Easy Way
Here, I will attempt to describe two very simple and inexpensive reforestation techniques. The first is to plant a few saplings atop the barren hills or mountain range during the tree growing season. The saplings are spaced strategically so that when they had grown to maturity and started to shed seeds, they are scattered down the slope evenly and densely to a lower level. These seeds will sprout and grow in the natural way and thus the propagation follows the natural process. These second generation trees will, in turn, scatter their seeds to another lower level and thus the natural process of the propagation continues down the slopes. The tree line gradually crept lower year after year and eventually the whole mountain is reforested again. It is a very clever idea that is copied from the nature. This technique is being applied very successfully in Thailand.  It is one of the innovations of His Majesty the King of Thailand. The King had made many useful innovations that benefit the people and the country. His innovations are recognized internationally and some are being awarded patent rights by foreign patent registration offices.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is also enjoying the success of this technique. The young King of that country is a great admirer of the Thai Monarch since he was a Crown Prince. He used to attend the Thai Monarch’s birthday ceremonies every year and on such occasions he visited the various Royal Projects in Thailand. He requested permission from the Thai Monarch to implement some of the techniques in his country and to my knowledge the natural propagation of the forest is one of them and is flourishing.
The second method is very interesting too. I am not sure whether it is one of the Thai Monarch’s invention. There are many national parks in Thailand. The Thais are found of visiting those parks and go on trekking tours on holidays to avoid the hustles and bustles of the city life. In some parks one might come across a strange sight. Giant slingshots or catapults are fixed in the ground. The visitors can enjoy shooting at nearby steep slopes, using large seeds piled at the ready, by the forest department employees. It is another clever idea. The visitors, old or young, male or female do not need urging to try their hands at shooting the seeds onto the nearby steep slopes. These slingshots are very popular attractions. They served many purposes—entertain the visitors and at the same time the seeds are scattered onto the barren slopes without any labour cost and also instill awareness to the public, the importance of the trees.
We should try out the first method. I do not know whether that is patented or not. Even if it is patented I hope the Thai King would not mind using his technique. As for the second method, I am not sure whether our National Parks could attract much visitors and whether there are trekking trails for the trekking enthusiasts and ready for such arrangements.


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