Sustenance of life on the Earth depends upon harmonious maintenance of its ecosystem. Conservation of the biodiversity and richness of its flora and fauna is therefore essential. Nature had gifted us with abundance of both – enormous varieties of creatures and thick zones of green forests. But we the humans have chosen to dangerously disturb the harmony of the ecosystem
because of our selfish race for materialistic growth and greed for luxurious comforts.
According to ecological reports nearly one-third of the forests in the world are coniferous forests and are found in the temperate regions. Tropical rain forests are valuable for their genetic resources, timber and other products. Rain forests are among the most diverse ecosystems; they cover over 6% of the earth’s surface but house over 50% of the life forms. As per the ecological surveys of 2005, tropical forests cover about 23 % of the earth’s land surface, but are disappearing at the rate of about 4 to 5 million hectares a year. Millions of hectares of deciduous forests are destroyed every year, most of them in the Caribbean region and in South America. The situation is no better in other parts of the globe.
Most of the world’s best agricultural land was once forest area. As the human population grew and there was need for more food and space for habitat, deforestation
began to take place. Now even the agricultural land is being sold like hot cakes for expansion of concrete jungles. Skyscrapers and plush malls are replacing the open forests and mangroves. The immediate consequences are being felt by most of us in terms of all-pervasive pollution, lesser rainfall etc. Unless we do something radical to reverse this process, the long -term consequences would prove to be disastrous.
Unlike the problem of air-pollution, the menaces of diminishing forests and mangroves and scarcity of drinking water are created as much by common people, individuals, as by the major industries. Cutting the trees for domestic firewood, dirtying the rivers by washing clothes in them and throwing all kinds of waste (including the ‘sacred’ remains of religious functions etc) are common among the masses in India. It is ironical that insane customs and superstitions are spread in the name of that very religion which by its very nature and philosophy regards and worships nature as Divine Mother!
The aranyaks of the rishis (Indian sages of the Vedic Age), that is the ashrams in forests, not urban settlements, were the centers of highest forms of spiritual and cultural evolution providing society with both spiritual and intellectual guidance and teachings of material sustenance and progress in total harmony with Nature. Thus, forests in India had remained central to its cultural and civilizational evolution. The aranyaks produced the best scientific research and cultural writings. The ancient Indian Culture
is therefore also called ‘Aranya Sanskrati’.