By: Dipak Kurmi
The survival of people relies on trees. These beautiful plants on Earth create a livable environment for various creatures, including humans. Throughout history, thinkers have been fascinated by trees, and they have been revered as gods because ancient sages recognized their immense importance. Respect for trees has been ingrained in human society for centuries. Animals found shelter and sustenance under these trees, which continue to provide for our basic needs. However, with each step of “civilization’s progress,” trees have suffered. The impact on trees has been devastating due to deforestation caused by civilized societies, and this destruction has been ongoing for the past three centuries.
The elements of nature all work to help each other. They have clear roles in the environment to keep everything balanced. Only humans have disrupted this balance, leading to environmental disasters. This has made life harder for all animals. Some animals have even disappeared forever because of human actions that didn’t seem important. Nature provides many things, and one of them is that plants give the Earth clean and free oxygen. Everyone knows we need enough oxygen in the air for big creatures like humans, animals, and birds to survive. But despite this, there’s a competition to cut down trees without anyone saying it out loud. When trees are cut down, it’s not just that we lose clean oxygen. The consequences go further than that.
The Government of Assam plans to start a tree planting movement called ‘Amrit Brikshya Andolan’ in the state. They aim to plant 1 crore trees within three hours on September 17. The Chief Minister, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sharma, launched the movement by unveiling a web portal, a mobile app, and a theme song. The goal is to protect the environment, tackle climate change, and help farmers earn more. The movement is not limited to just three hours; it’s planned until 2070. It aligns with the Prime Minister’s efforts for climate conservation and involves modern technology and farmers. Farmers will grow valuable trees for food and profit, practicing agroforestry. Government nurseries are also involved. The government will plant valuable trees that benefit the environment and contribute to the timber industry and the economy.
Assam needs such a program because many trees have been cut down for construction and development, including national highways. From 2001-2020 to last year’s data, the state lost 2,690 square kilometers of forest. Over a crore trees were cut down for the East-West corridor expansion. Development has led to pollution and conflicts between animals and humans. Despite being proud of the state’s green cover, we’re destroying agricultural land and forests, replacing them with concrete. Neighboring states like Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh have 75% forest cover, while Assam only has 34.2%. The Amrit Tree Movement is a commendable and timely effort in this context.
The cutting down of trees, known as deforestation, has led to a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and the ability to soak up harmful greenhouse gases. This has caused problems like global warming, changes in the climate, harm to the carbon cycle, disruption of natural balance, loss of different kinds of plants and animals, turning land into deserts, upsetting the water cycle, reducing how much water the ground can hold, causing floods and landslides, carrying sand into rivers and fields, making soil less good for farming, and affecting humidity. All these issues bring about negative effects on buildings, cause conflicts between people and animals, and even make some kinds of animals and birds disappear forever. These harmful actions keep happening. As the world’s climate changes and becomes a danger to human life, there’s a worry that both human society and animals might face destruction. Now, people are starting to understand how vital trees are once again. Environmental experts are warning everyone that if animals are going to survive, there’s no choice but to increase the number of trees all around the Earth. People are already showing an interest in planting and protecting trees.
The Chief Minister, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sharma, stated that with the people’s sincere cooperation, the ‘Amrit Brikshya Andolan’ will achieve its intended outcomes. This movement is expected to be incredibly valuable for the state in economic, social, and environmental aspects. The initial goal is to plant 1 crore trees on September 17 and eventually 5 crore trees over the next five years. However, the success of this ambitious government initiative relies on the dedication and commitment of those involved. Growing a sapling into a tree isn’t simple. If it were, our state would already be a forest due to previous tree planting efforts by institutions, NGOs, and governments. But that hasn’t happened, mainly because planted saplings aren’t nurtured until they grow. Many people think their duty ends after posting tree pictures on social media on a specific day. It’s crucial to focus on tasks like proper fencing, regular watering, fertilization, and cleaning after planting a sapling. Only then can it truly grow into a tree.
The earlier CAMPA scheme aimed at enriching forests didn’t yield the desired results. To ensure that the ‘Amrit Brikshya Andolan’, undertaken with strong determination by the government, succeeds, everyone involved must take responsibility. The soil in Assam isn’t particularly supportive of plant growth, so understanding why the planted saplings here don’t survive is important. It’s worth noting that Assam’s dry season begins after September and lasts until April. Hence, consistent watering for seven months after planting is vital. The government’s intention is to see every tree thrive, and they’ve even announced a reward of Rs 300 per tree, which is a positive step. (The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)