“Forests are the world’s air-conditioning system – the lungs of the planet – and we are at the verge of switching it of” (Prince Charles).

Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests to make the land available for other purposes. Deforestation is usually done for housing, urban settlements, timber, paper making, or for growing cash crops on large scale. According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forests are lost every year which is roughly equal to the size of Panama and about half of the World’s forests have been cleared.

Deforestation is one of the major factors of global climate change. Forests are the major absorber of carbon dioxide and also play an important role in water cycle. Carbon dioxide is major green house gas which absorbs solar heat. The exceeding level of carbon dioxide and increasing rate of deforestation is causing more sunlight to trap within atmosphere. This trapping leads to rise of temperature which results global warming. Global warming leads to climate change due to which the number & severity of disasters have been increased such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, landslides etc. Due to global warming, glaciers are melting and darker sides become exposed to sunlight. These darker sides are absorber of heat (while ice is reflector of heat) which cause more melting and floods are resulted.

Deforestation is causing an addition of 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year. Its concentration have been increased from 315 parts per million to approximately 400 parts per million between 1958 and 2014. Intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that at the end of 21st century, temperature will be 1.8-4 C higher than today.

Forests contain great variety of living organisms (70% of total living organisms). When forests are cut down, destruction of organisms’ habitat leads to their extinction. We – the human beings – are so cruel. We took away the rights from other organisms to live safely in their habitats. We are not only destroying other species but also causing great destruction for ourselves. According to Janas Stalk, “If all insects on Earth disappeared within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”

The need of time is that we should save our forests not only for ourselves but also for our coming generations. We should take initiatives for saving forests as Indians took an initiative for saving trees. In early 1970s, when contractors came to cut the trees in Uttarakhand (India), the villagers hug the trees and saved them by interposing their bodies between the trees and contractors’ axes. In this way the villagers saved their trees. We can also take steps to save forests. We can use the method of Afforestation (growing forest in an area where no forest was present in past) and Reforestation (growing forest in an area where forest was present in past). We can also save the forest by controlling the burning process in forest which causes great destruction. In spite of so many benefits of saving forests, we also have some requirements that can be fulfilled only by cutting trees, such as timber, paper etc. For these purposes, we have a useful method in which we can cut the trees without creating damage. We can do selective logging of forest. In selective logging, forest is distributed into parts. Trees from one part are cut down in a year and other parts of forests are remaining intact. In the next year, same method is to another part of forest. In this way, forests can be saved from clear cutting and also the requirements of the wood can be fulfilled. By using these strategies, we can save forests not only for ourselves but also for our generations

“People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people” (Bryce Nelson).

The writer is student of BS Environmental Science, NFC IET Multan.