Importance of Forests and Conservation EVS Grade 5 | Orchids
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Forests

Concept: Importance of Forests and their Conservation

  • Forests form an indispensable part of Earth. They act as a habitat for most life forms on this planet.
  • Forests also play a vital role in the proper functioning of our ecosystem.
  • They are the ultimate producers of some important things required for the existence of life on Earth.
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Importance of forests:

  1. Act as oxygen reservoirs:
    • Plants perform photosynthesis and thereby are capable of producing oxygen, which no one else can do except a few algae.
    • Hence, life on Earth largely depends on the oxygen provided by forests.
    • A mature leaf can synthesise oxygen sufficient enough for 5-10 people per day.
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  2. Habitats of animals and humans:
    • We all know that the maximum number of animal and plant species grow and live in forests.
    • Apart from this, forests worldwide are inhabited by different human tribes who depend on forests for their livelihood.
    • Forests are sacred for such tribes and integral to their lives.
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  3. Control temperature:
    • The evaporation of water from the stomatal pores present on leaves is called transpiration.
    • Transpiration produces a cooling effect, which helps in keeping the surroundings cool.
    • For the same reason, we feel cooler near a tree than in other open areas during summer.
  4. Control global warming:
    • Trees and plants can manage the level of carbon dioxide in the air by using it during photosynthesis.
    • The rising level of carbon dioxide leads to global warming because carbon dioxide absorbs heat from the sun.
    • This phenomenon is necessary on a small scale to maintain an optimum temperature on Earth. However, suppose the carbon dioxide levels increase rapidly. In that case, it may lead to a sudden rise in the Earth’s temperature, which would have an adverse impact on the living world.
    • So, forests are necessary to control global warming and its harmful effects.
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  5. Bring rain:
    • Water lost during transpiration by plants plays an integral role in cloud formation and hence helps in bringing rain.
    • Dense forests like the Amazon rainforest have a micro-climate zone of their own, which includes heavy rainfall at regular intervals that support the massive biodiversity in the region.
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  6. Prevent natural calamities:
    • The roots of trees penetrate deep into the soil layers and help absorb the extra water that the natural water reserves like rivers cannot accommodate.
    • Hence, trees prevent the overflowing of extra water during rains which is responsible for floods.
    • Also, the roots hold the soil firmly and prevent it from washing away with the water current.
    • The roots of the plants have a firm grip on the soil, thereby reducing the chances of landslides in mountainous areas.
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  7. Maintain the water level in aquifers:
    • The water reserve found in the deeper layers of soil is called aquifers.
    • The water from aquifers is pumped out for various reasons and is an excellent source of fresh water.
    • The trees maintain the level of fresh water in an aquifer. The roots of trees absorb the water and help refill the aquifer.
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  8. Shelter belts:
    • Farmers use long trees as shelter belts around their farming lands.
    • Trees help block gusty winds, which adversely affect crops and also lead to soil erosion.
    • Also, insects can pollinate the plants when the wind speed is moderate.
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  9. Reduce noise pollution:
    • Trees act as absorbers of sound waves.
    • They help absorb the harsh sounds and do not let them travel long distances.
    • Hence, forests help in reducing the overall level of noise pollution.
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  10. Food Reserves:
    • Forests provide food, fruits, medicines, herbs, and fodder, which are helpful for both man and animals.
  11. Source of different raw materials:
    • Forests are the source of raw materials for various industries.
    • Pharmaceutical, paper, matchstick, plywood, rubber, and food industries are directly dependent on forests for the supply of raw materials.
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Reasons for the depletion of forests:

  1. Industrialisation
    • Industrialisation means setting up industries on a massive scale.
    • However, to build industries, one has to get hold of large vacant plots, and for this reason, forests are cleared extensively.
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  2. Population explosion:
    • With an increase in the number of people, there is a sharp increase in the demand for land, food, and other essential items.
    • To meet these demands, the production of these materials has to be increased, for which forests are being cleared out rapidly.
  3. Expansion of agricultural land:
    • To meet the demand for food due to the increasing population, there is an urgent need to expand the agricultural lands, which in turn, is forcing people to cut down trees.
  4. Urbanisation:
    • With more people migrating towards cities in search of jobs, education, and a better lifestyle, the forest covers near the urban areas are reducing on a large scale.
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  5. Development of roads:
    • As human settlements are increasing, the need for proper connecting routes or channels is also increasing.
    • Roadways and railways are developed, leading to the clearing of forest covers on a large scale.
  6. Development of dams:
    • Dams play a crucial role in energy production for our country.
    • However, looking at the vast infrastructure, these dams require large areas to be developed for which the forested lands are cleared.
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  7. Mining:
    • The Earth is a reservoir of a lot of minerals that are extracted and used after processing.
    • The mineral extraction requires clearing forest land as mining is impossible on land covered with large trees.

    Conservation of forests:

    • Forests play a vital role in creating a balance in the ecosystem, either directly or indirectly.
    • They should be conserved because of the following reasons—
      • For balancing the level of life-supporting gases—oxygen and carbon dioxide.
      • To ensure enough rainfall and prevent natural calamities like droughts and landslides.
      • To maintain the level of groundwater and avoid soil erosion and floods.
      • To provide a natural habitat for animals and plants to live and grow.
      • To have a balance in the food chain and ecosystem.
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    • People have played a role in saving the forests from time to time.
    • Presently, many nature-based drives are conducted to send a message to the people about the importance of forests. An example of one such mass drive was the Chipko Movement.

    Chipko Movement:

    • This movement came into existence in the 1970s and aimed at preventing large-scale cutting of forests due to industrialisation.
    • The people of Uttrakhand started the movement, and Sundar Lal Bhauguna was one of the important leaders who led this movement.
    • People hugged the trees as a symbol of protection to prevent them from being cut down.
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Measures for the protection of the forests:

  • As India is a developing country, one would see a significant development of smart cities, roadways, railways, and many more in the coming years. All these activities would require land. However, a few things can be kept in mind while planning these construction works. Some of them are as follows—
    • Setting up industries on the barren lands.
    • Covering the landfills with parks and trees.
    • Ensuring planting tree belts around large buildings like malls, schools, and residential societies.
    • Replacing the number of trees cleared for constructing highways by replanting them in available areas.
    • Recycling the goods made out of raw material from forests such as paper, cardboard, furniture, etc.

New Words

Barren: A piece of land not suitable for cultivation.

Industrialisation: Setting up of industries in a region on a large scale.

Urbanisation: The migration of people from rural areas to urban areas.


Did You Know?

  • 8.5 % of the Earth’s forests are located in Canada.
  • Research states that spending time in forests makes us happy and boosts the activity of the immune system.
  • One can find approximately 480 species of trees in one hectare of tropical rainforest.
  • Every fourth person on our planet relies on the forest for livelihood and survival. Deforestation has a worse impact on the life of such people.
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