The saying goes, “A tree cut is not the same as a tree planted”. It is a misconception that compensatory afforestation is a solution for deforestation. With the growing pace of urbanization, more and more forest land is being cleared out and to build flyovers, industries, mining sites, and so on. Government consoles us by talking of reforestation that it would be doing elsewhere as a compensation.
This may seem all right superficially, but in reality, it can do more harm than good. Because trees and forests are not only from the point of view of environmental concern. On trees, depends the lives of many a people, the diversity, and the habitation of animals and birds. Planting some trees on the sides of roads may beautify the surroundings of urban dwellers but they can’t return the lost life and livelihood of rural and tribal population.
• Deforestation and the compensatory afforestation both are harmful because they are done injudiciously.
• The region from where the forests are cut suffer in terms of loss of vegetation, climactic degradation, soil erosion, and other problems.
• The land which is thought of as fallow and hence utilizable for afforestation, is not often fallow as the nearby villagers use it for multiple cropping. These villagers lose their means of livelihood due to imposed afforestation.
• The forest which government plants often lack diversity, and devoid the farmers even of their staple food which they used to grow on that land.
Therefore, planting saplings on individual level or even on a big scale cannot always compensate for the diversity, lost lives, and environmental degradation caused by reckless deforestation. It’s about much more than just the number of trees.