Why save forests?

Any common man will definitely ask this question. What is in for me to think about saving wildlife? Little do we realise that our existence depends on these forests.

There are a few basic facts that need to be emphasised here. India has 39 protected tiger sanctuaries and 300 rivers flow through these sanctuaries. These rivers are the source of water and livelihood for all of us. Only 4% of the total land area in India is comprised of forests and it is a shame we cannot protect just 4% of this land space.

People often opine that conservation is different from development and this is     not true. Both go hand in hand. Conservation and development are the same. This is the reason. We need development, to make the economy stronger, to bring economic parity, access to education, to create opportunities for people to enhance their lives, to enable them to get jobs. This is important for people who live in forests as well. Development is important to give these people livelihood. If they want to move to cities, they should be able to. Development is right if it happens in the correct place.

We have 96% of the land to develop. Why are we focused on the 4% land that belongs to these animals and birds? Not just that, we do not realise that by foraying into that space, we are ruining our chances of living in this planet.

You have plasma tv, gadgets and gizmos, laptops and what not, but what if you do not have water? Imagine one day you open the tap and water does not come? Don’t you panic? What happens if that continues for a few more days? What will we do? We would have all the comforts in the world, but not have access to essentials-water, needed for basic survival.

If we cut away forests the way we are doing now, this imaginary scenario will come true one day! Humans will die of thirst deaths. A fact here-this year’s mass deaths of birds have happened due to lack of water. Birds have died due to lack of water. This is a sign of warning. The days for us are also counted if things do not change over a period of time.

Many companies enter the forest area with the excuse of building a hydro power plant. Slowly, they enter the forests and start ruining them. Second, the areas where tigers reside are rich in minerals. Hence, the tiger habitat is under massive destruction. The tigers will go, the forests will vanish, and the rivers will dry up. This will become true in future if we do not take steps to act now.

Social responsibility is everyone’s responsibility. Why should a few dedicated people fight and lobby for saving these rivers while the entire population sits back and enjoy the luxuries of life. We need the participation of people to push these issues, educate other people, become aware of issues and help to save our own wealth-our forest. As individuals, what are YOU doing for your land?

Wildlife conservation is important because that is what will save us from destruction. To save humans, save wildlife. We are not doing any favour to the trees or nature by saving them, rather we with a begging bowl take what they give. We are at their mercy and it is not the other way around. The earth not just belongs to humans, but also, to a butterfly, earthworm, snake, spider and every other specie.

One can in their own way can play an important role. Unless, there is involvement of people, change will be difficult to come by. Get in touch with an NGO who is working on these issues and contribute in your own way-whether you are a writer, photographer, lawyer, engineer, student, it does not matter.

Using Shekar Dattatri’s words here-If one day, you hear about Taj Mahal being destroyed, there will be people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, lobbying with slogan ‘Save the Taj Mahal’. Why are people not getting together if forests are cut?” It is true! We would want to protect our heritage and history, lets not forget that forest is our natural heritage too!

It is time we protect our forests, than blaming the authorities and leaving the pressure on to wildlife biologists, filmmakers and conservationists. Do your bit to save the planet! Now or never!

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