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Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Rural Reforestation’- A step closer to mitigate Global Warming


In modern days, perhaps we all might have familiar with the word ‘Global Warming’. Many of us often talk about this topic in our work places or with our intellectual friends.
Generally it refers to “A steady boost in the Earth’s temperature due to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants.”
Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, but its pace has significantly increased in the last few decades due to the burning of fossil fuels. As the human population has increased, so has the volume of fossil fuels burned. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and natural gas, and burning them causes what is known as the “greenhouse effect” in Earth’s atmosphere.
The greenhouse effect is when the sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere, but when that heat is reflected off the surface cannot escape back into space. Gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels avert the heat from leaving the atmosphere. These greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, methane, and nitrous oxide. The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise overtime.
Global warming has presented another issue called climate change. Sometimes these phrases are used interchangeably, however, they are different. Climate change refers to changes in weather patterns and growing seasons around the world. It also refers to sea level rise caused by the expansion of warmer seas and melting ice sheets and glaciers. Global warming causes climate change, which poses a serious threat to life on Earth in the forms of widespread flooding and extreme weather.
Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most of the electricity is still produced from fossil fuels; only about a quarter comes from wind, solar, and other renewable sources.
As per the report published by International Union for Conservation of Natural (IUCN) in February 2021, approximately 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide, one-third of the total CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year.
So, Forests are a critical part of the carbon cycle and can help to lessen the impacts of climate change worldwide. Forests absorb carbon as they grow, acting as carbon storage “bank” that helps to offset fossil fuel emissions.
Forest improves the environment in many ways such as: Relative humidity of air is increased, increase fertility of surface soil. These add large quantities of organic matter in soil by which water and nutrient holding capacity of soil is increased.
Healthy forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by acting as carbon sinks, absorbing billions of metric tons of CO2 annually. However, they are under threat due to deforestation and degradation.
Thus, preserving and restoring forests is essential for achieving the world’s climate goals.
In this context, rural reforestation can play a vital role. Because according to 2011 census 68.84 % population in India lives in rural areas. So, it would be easier to initiate reforestation programs in these areas in comparison to urban areas where scope of reforestation is less.
So, let’s come forward and together with our tiny efforts we can create a green environment.

(The Author is a Botanist with specialization in Plant Genetics.
Currently posted as Technical Officer in Climate Resilience of Forest Ecosystems, Biodiversity & Adaptive Capacities of Forest Dependent Communities in Tripura. Department of Forest, Government of Tripura.)

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