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20th April 2024 (18 Topics)

Forests a national asset and major contributor to financial wealth: SC


The Supreme Court has asserted in a judgment that forests in India are a national asset and a major contributor to the nation’s financial wealth. Forests are not just a collection of trees; they are a vital asset for the nation's economy and environment.

1: Dimension- Importance of Forests
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Forests harbor a rich diversity of plant and animal species, playing a crucial role in preserving biodiversity. They provide habitats for various flora and fauna, contributing to the ecological balance.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigating climate change. India's forests sequester approximately 24,000 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, helping to regulate the global climate.
  • Soil and Water Conservation: Trees and vegetation in forests prevent soil erosion, regulate water cycles, and maintain groundwater levels. Forests act as natural water filters, purifying water and ensuring its availability for human consumption and agriculture.
2: Dimension- Economic Value of Forests
  • Carbon Trading: Forests contribute to a nation's financial wealth by earning revenue through carbon trading. Countries with excess forest cover can sell carbon credits, incentivizing forest conservation and sustainable management practices.
  • Timber and Non-timber Forest Products: Forests provide valuable timber resources and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as medicinal plants, fruits, and resins. These products contribute to local economies and provide livelihoods to forest-dependent communities.
  • Tourism and Recreation: Forests attract tourists and nature enthusiasts, generating revenue through ecotourism activities such as wildlife safaris, trekking, and camping. Sustainable tourism practices can promote conservation efforts and support local communities.
3: Dimension- Threats to Forests and Conservation Measures
  • Forest Conservation Laws: Strong legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms are essential to protect forests from illegal logging, encroachment, and unsustainable land use practices. The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act (FCAA) 2023 should be reviewed to ensure it upholds the principles of forest conservation.
  • Community Participation: Involving local communities and indigenous groups in forest management and conservation efforts can help in sustainable resource utilization and conflict resolution. Community-based forest management initiatives empower local stakeholders and promote stewardship of forest resources.
  • Monitoring and Enforcement: Regular monitoring, surveillance, and strict enforcement of forest laws are crucial for preventing deforestation, forest degradation, and wildlife poaching. Technology, such as satellite imagery and remote sensing, can aid in monitoring forest cover changes and illegal activities.

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