Plantation of trees only solution to Asian floods

Business Recorder 10 Nov 11;

KARACHI: The humanitarian emergency caused by the few last months’ devastating floods in Asia is a warning that the situation could get worse, The people affected by this crisis have lost everything, and their difficulties are only just beginning. Two countries Pakistan and Thailand have been badly hit by the disaster.

Hundreds of thousands of people are facing a struggle for survival over the next six months. Thousands of homes have been damaged, possessions destroyed and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities closed.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that by the year 2050 around 60 percent of the world's population will experience severe water shortages, with 33 percent thought to be already under water stress. The water cycle has been disturbed badly over the world causing, food depletion, drought, flooding, rising sea level, increase in green house gases and scary food shortage. The root cause behind the scene - deforestation.

Forests cover 31% of the total global land area. These forests are home to 80% of earth’s terrestrial biodiversity and the livelihood of 1.6 billion people around the world depends on forests. Recognizing the global importance of forests the United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on conservation, multiple use and sustainable development of all types of forests. Forest plays an important role in climate change which can have great significance.

Forests also have significant impact in reduction of all types of major pollutions like air, soil, noise and even water, as trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and other green house gases keeping the air clean. Forests clean soil and fight soil erosion and bind it resulting in reduction of soil attrition as well providing shade and coolness to surroundings. They also act as a wind breaker. Noise pollution is reduced as tree leaves reduce frequency of sound. Water is mostly an abundant component on earth and polluting it continuously with the passage of time but forests here also act as a filter and slowing storm water runoff.

“Forests and trees on farms are a direct source of food and cash income for more than a billion of the world’s poorest people,” Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General for Forestry Eduardo Rojas-Brails said.

“They provide both staple foods and supplemental foods. To enhance these benefits, governments and development partners should increase investments in support of sustainable forest management and rehabilitation of degraded forest lands,” he added, noting that in India, more than 50 million people depend directly on forests for subsistence, while in Laos wild foods are consumed by 80 per cent of its 6.4 million people on a daily basis.