In India, June is the best month to plant trees. Therefore tree plantation is the most preferred environment day activity. According to official data, millions of trees are planted in June-July, and then what? What happens to all these planted saplings? How many of them survive? Is there any follow-up data? Moreover, among all these questions, arrives the most fundamental problem, ‘Is mere tree plantation the only solution to combat environmental destruction?’
Before we answer this, let's have a look at benefits of tree plantation:
- Trees provide urban green cover, which is essential for polluted cities.
- Trees are useful in urban landscaping as plantations near highways, and avenues. Read about Bio-aesthetic planning.
- Flowering trees have spectacular landscaping effects, and shade-giving evergreen trees are like blessings for city areas.
- Dense tree cover maintains the steady temperature in that locality.
- Trees are planted to reclaim the destroyed forest (reforestation) or to create a new forest in the non-forest area (afforestation).
- If native trees are planted, they also attract local birds, butterflies and support the local biodiversity.
Planting trees saplings is not enough; particularly for environmental protection. Tree plantation should be part of a larger picture of Environmental restoration!
What Is Environmental Restoration?Scientific editor and writer John J. Berger defined environmental restoration (or “natural resource restoration”) as follows: "… A process in which a damaged resource is renewed. Biologically. Structurally. Functionally."
While trees are an essential part of nature, the whole environment is made up of physical entities like grasslands, forests, deserts, flatlands, hill counties, mountains, slopes and aquatic entities like lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands. We need to protect and restore all such naturally occurring phenomena if we genuinely care for nature. This cannot be achieved by merely planting trees.
One of the most critical subtypes of environmental restoration is eco-restoration. It is the scientific study that supports the practice of ecological restoration, which is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action. e.g. The magnificent African animals like Lions, Giraffes, Zebra, Cheetah, Elephants, Leopards, Gazelles, and Wildebeests can be saved only by restoring & protecting the habitat of African Savanna grasslands and not by planting trees.
Let's take an example of, ‘Kaas plateau’; also known as Maharashtra’s Valley of the flower. Kaas Plateau has unique flora due to the factors like high rainfall, low temperature, humidity, shallow soil topography and it’s micro-climate, especially during monsoon. If we start planting trees in Kaas plateau, probably it will turn into a forest land; however, this will destroy the original habitat of spectacular seasonal flowers.
Read more about Kaas Plateau: ‘Where Colours Unite Beautiful Earth Is Created’
This blog is by no means against tree plantation, but blindfold tree plantation without considering the local environmental factors can be potentially hazardous to nature. Ecological restoration is not a one-time activity like tree plantation. It takes dedication to research and lifelong effort to bring back what is lost due to destruction, and tree plantation may or may not be part of this process. You can be part of this movement by creating awareness and learning more about your local natural resources.
Happy World Environment Day!