Deforestation in India: Meaning, Causes, Effects, Present Scenario, and Chipko Movement

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Deforestation in India: Meaning, Causes, Effects, Present Scenario, and Chipko Movement


Deforestation in India


This article discusses the various aspects of deforestation in India. A brief note to the highly successful ‘Chipko movement’ is also given for better understanding of the subject.

What is the meaning of Deforestation?


Deforestation means the cutting down of trees without realizing its manifold evils and destructive effects.

Deforestation refers to:

  • the removal or cutting down of forest trees, and transformation of natural vegetation and forests into clear land,
  • without making any arrangement for the replenishment or re-plantation of the forest trees.

In simple words, deforestation refers to the deliberate process of destroying the forests, so that the clear land may be put to other use.

What are the Causes of Deforestation?


The most important causes of deforestation is human ignorance and greed. Ignorant people were not aware of the harmful effects of cutting down the trees. Greedy people continued to clear forests for their own selfish interest.

Besides uncontrollable degradation of environment, forests in India were cleared for

  • agriculture and farming,
  • colonization,
  • for wood,
  • for establishment towns and cities.

At hilly areas, trees were cut to make the slopes fit for agriculture.

The wood derived out of the Trees are used for :

  • for fuel wood,
  • for timber used in construction of houses and in the making of furniture,
  • for raw material used in industries on a large-scale, and
  • to provide fodder for cattle and other animals.

What are the harmful effects of Deforestation?


The exploitation of forests (deforestation) is has been done in the past in the name of so-called human welfare and development.

The past century saw massive deforestation in India. In India, many wild animals and birds are have become rare species due to massive deforestation.

Forests are nature’s protective shield, but this shield is being eroded by human folly and greed. As Gandhiji once said, ‘Nature has enough for everybody’s need but not for everybody’s greed’. Indiscriminate felling of trees is destructive and contra-productive and urgent steps are called for to put down this evil with a heavy hand.

Indiscriminate cutting of trees leads to the following situation, viz.

  • disturbs the ecological balance,
  • causes environmental pollution,
  • soil erosion and landslides,
  • floods,
  • water sources may get dried,
  • climatic changes.

The present scenario in India


Due to deforestation, the forest cover of India has fallen below the minimum recommended level. According to experts, forests should cover about one-third of the total area of country. But in India forests covers around 24% of the total area.

Satellite pictures show that India has gained a forest area of 5,871 square kilometer during the period between 2010 and 2012. However, the increase in forest area is not even throughout the country. In some places, forests land is being used for various development projects like dams, industries, roads and agriculture.

Chipko Movement – The movement against deforestation.


‘Chipko Movement” was the movement against deforestation. Realizing the devastating effect that deforestation cause to the environment, this movement voices in support for forest conservation.

The parent organization of this movement is ‘The Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal’. The Mandal has carried on extensive programme of educating the people in the evil effects of deforestation and the urgent need of sanity and balance in this respect.

The evil of deforestation was highlighted by environmental activists. They embraced the trees which were about to be cut and thus created public awareness about the need of forest preservation.

Multi-point program to stop deforestation: The Chipko Movement has a multi-point programme to stop the deforestation process. It requires that:

  • Forest areas affected by landslides and soil erosion, as well as forest areas that are crucial for conservation of water resources, should be identified and conserved.
  • The least needs of the people living near the forests and customarily using them for their survival economy should be established and the administration should be such that these rights are exercised easily by them.
  • The people living in the area should be entrusted with the responsibility of the development and conservation of forests as well as of using them in a sane, balanced and judicious manner.
  • The government has the necessary expertise, but the apathy and indifference of government staff has come in the way of effective implementation of any forest-preservation programme.

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