Forests: Our Lifeline
A forest is a dense growth of trees and various plants, covering a large area of land. It, in fact, is an ecosystem wherein. the community of plants and animals interacting with each other and with the physical environment. However, only about 30% of the world today is covered by forest. Forests are important for maintaining environmental balance and controlling pollution. Forests play the following roles:
- Maintains balance of gases: Forests maintain the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen, by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
- Checks pollution: Forests absorb dust and other pollutants. Forests absorb noise and act as barrier against wind.
- Protects soil: The roots of trees bind soil and prevent it from being washed away by rain water or blown by wind. The leaves of tree protect soil from direct rain showers. The leaves that fall and are decomposed make the soil fertile.
- Controls floods and droughts: Forests prevent water from flowing down fast. Thus prevent floods by preventing rivers in the plains from filling up suddenly. This also prevents drought because the water is held by the forests and seeps into the soil and replenishes the groundwater. The availability of groundwater balances the scarcity of water, in particular after monsoon.
- Controls rain and temperature: The process of transpiration releases water vapour from tree leaves that helps to increase rainfall. The evaporation of water from the leaves also causes cooling.
Deforestation, particularly in the tropical rain forests, has become a major environmental concern, as it can destabilize the earth's temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels. To maintain the environmental balance and to control pollution, deforestation or shrinking of forests should be controlled.