Humanity owes its existence to the trees. Sounds like an over exaggerated statement? No, it’s a fact.

Vedas and Envirinment

According to holy books of Hinduism, Vedas, there are four types of living beings. They are

Andaja, means born of eggs
Jivaja, means born of womb
Swedaja, means born of moisture
Udbhija, means born of earth.

Vedas always stressed the need to preserve the nature in its pristine glory.

Why the nature has to be kept in all its richness

Forests are made to cater to the needs of not only humans, but all the living organisms. If trees are not preserved, all living organisms will be affected in many different ways.

Forests provide shelter to a maximum number of varied species. And these include species which are on the verge of extinction.  Though efforts are on to save  some species by keeping them in Zoos and National parks, it’s not adequate as there are some species which can survive in their natural habitats only.

Forests play a key role in maintaining Water cycle.

Maintaining Water cycle means, maintaining a continuous movement of water on the surface, above the surface and below the surface of the earth. Water cycle is added to the atmosphere through a process known as transpiration.

The moisture thus added to the atmosphere helps in formation of clouds.

What happens in the absence of formation of water cycle ?

If the trees in a forest are cut indiscriminately, the possibility of Water cycle reduces and in its turn makes the rainfall decline. And paves path to drought conditions.

Forests, how they help humanity.

Forests save the earth’s soil.

Trees and its roots act as cover to the soil. In the absence of trees, rains wash away the soil. These washed away soils mix in to the sea causing immense harm to the marine life as well as to the humans. More importantly, a farmer cannot grow crops on  an eroded soil.

Trees produce much needed oxygen.

It’s said a well grown tree produces oxygen during a season enough to cater to the oxygen needed for 10 people in an year. Above all trees filter the air we breathe.

Trees absorb chemicals and other hazardous things in the soil.

Trees have a dual quality of absorbing hazardous substances  or convert them in to less hazardous substances. This process of absorbing the hazardous substances in the soil is known as  phytoremediation.

Trees are great noise filters.

High decibeled and ear splitting noises are the gifts of modern civilization. If left uncontrolled, they cause deadly diseases. When it comes to shielding of the noise, there is nothing like a tree. They prevent the noise like a stone wall. Tree plantation on the avenues of urban areas will be more helpful in filtering the noise.

Trees reduce storm water runoff.

 We know, when rain falls on roads parking lots, rooftops etc  the rain water cannot soak in to the water, because they are paved. Paved surfaces will not allow the water to sink in them. It results in greater amount of runoff. In the case of an area, where there are trees, rains will cause less runoff. If the rain falls on paved surfaces, the large volumes of water are carried to local streams, lakes and create flooding and subsequent erosion.

Trees are the store houses of carbon.

Trees need carbon dioxide for making its food. They absorb carbon dioxide and will not allow carbon dioxide to go free, but arrests it in its  roots, leaves and wood. This natural activity of the trees will help the humanity in big way. We all know carbon dioxide is the main ingredient in the process of global warming.

Trees are the most effective Air cleaners.

There are a plethora of airborne pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. Trees, by virtue of their ability to lowering the air temperature retain the particulate pollutants in the air.

Relief from Heat.

A place sans trees  will be hotter as high as 12 degrees Fahrenheit more than the areas with trees.

Trees enhance the value of the property.

Real estate businessmen are presently using “Trees” as an added attraction to lure their customers. Tree lined avenues, lush green parks with plenty of trees in every compound and backyard are some of the features towards which customers are showing interest. They are expensive than the houses without trees.

 The ungrateful man.

With so many virtues, with a plethora of uses to the mankind, do you think the mankind is giving the tree its due respect?

The answer is an affirmative NO. Man’s devilish self-centered nature has reached a point of no return. For his development , he resorted to all sorts of atrocities and annihilated nature in an unprecedented scale. 

Where it lead to?

A total devastation of the Eco system. Seasons have become erratic. Floods and droughts have become regular. Soil erosion and lack of rains contributed to agriculture failure. Forest covers depleted. Fodder for the cattle and firewood the most essential things for a farmer's livelihood disappeared in to oblivion.Earth's soil was corroded beyond repair. Owing to water shortage, villagers stopped  rising cattle and other livestock which are essential for farming. 

Farmers lost livelihood. This in turn led to great exodus of farmers in search of livelihood to urban areas resulting in choking the urban life.

The cause and effect. 

If one looks back, it's not a difficult task to know the roots of the evil behind mass exodus of farmers to urban areas.What is that force that deprived the villagers and farmers their livelihood ? Despite abundant natural wealth at their disposal what prevented from utilizing them ? Is it due to only nature abuse ? Of course atmospheric abuse one of the reasons. But what aggravated the situation was the "The Indian Forest Act 1927.

This act restricted the access of villagers to the forests. 

 My-ftiend-tree-copyThe pioneers of ‘Save nature’ Campaign

Much earlier than the ‘Chipko’ moment, ( Hug the tree moment) of 70s in a bid to stop felling the trees by the wood cutting contractors for business purposes , thus robbing away the livelihood opportunities of those hilly people where agriculture is not possible.

As early as 260 years ago, the,  villagers from 84 villages of Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, led by Amrita Devi rose against tree felling  laid their lives. The king of Jodhpur , who witnessed and realized the gravity of the situation, issued an order putting an end to tree felling in all the Bishnoi  villages in Rajasthan. 

How Chipco moment started  

The Government’s decision to allot an area in the forests of Alakananda valley in the state of Utter Pradesh to a sports goods company in the year 1973. Forests are the main sources of the people of Hilly regions of India. The reason for this is the scope for agriculture is non- existent.

The Chipco movement in a span of 5 years spread to other districts of the then Uttar Pradesh like wild fire.

Earlier, the demand to allow the farmers to use forest wood to make agricultural tools was denied by thr government. The dual attitude of the Government infuriated the villagers. Led by an organization called Dasoli Gram Swarajya Sangh,DGSS and under the leadership of Chandi Prasad Bhatt villagers rised high like a mighty wave.

Women formed a circle around the trees in the forest to prevent the tree cutting. This historical event soon inspired the people of the entire region of Himalayas. Most notable people who were involved in this movement were Dhoom Singh Negi, Bachni Devi and hundreds of women.

The consistent and perseverant efforts of the villagers led to the formation of “Natural resource policy” in India.

Thus the “Chipco movement” turned a new leaf in the history of ‘Nature Conservation.’


Other Trail Blazers

Many great souls contributed to the noble cause of nature protection in different ways. Among them Gandhian philosopher  and activist Sundarlal Bahuguna, stressed on  preserving the nature employing  Gandhian methods of Satyagraha and Ahimsa or non- violence. 

Ghansyam Raturi’s inspiring songs related to the importance of preservation of nature practically stirred the villagers of Himalayas.

Chandi Prsasad Bhatt stressed on the development of local industries utilizing the forest wealth. This helps  the locals un having an eternal source of livelihood. The movement spread to many states in the country. It stopped felling of the trees in the western ghats and Vindhyas. Natural resource policy thus brought a revolutionary awareness in India. 

Right Livelihood Award.

In 1987 the Chipko Movement was awarded the “Right Livelihood Award”.

The Right Livelihood Award, a prestigious award is also known as "Alternative Nobel Prize".

Right Livelihood Award is awarded to those who strive to achieve the most practical ways to solve the most problems and challenges threatening the world.

Unprecedented movement in the developing countries.

Though Chipko movement was started initially, subsequently, it became a trailblazer for many a massive Forest conservation movement. The specialty in this movement was  “Non- violent” methods employed. Chipko movement took place when there was no such movement anywhere in the developing countries. This made the heads of the world turn towards it. Chipko movement was noticed and recognized as a powerful tool to create awareness in the people. The pioneers if Chipko movement were aptly described and hailed as “ People who shaped India.” And the movement if Chipko as , “ Forest Satyagraha” by the press all over the world.

Image : Author

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