Forests have a huge impact on the environment. The trees help in balancing the oxygen-carbon dioxide balance of the earth, by
absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and releasing
oxygen. Forests regulate temperature of the Earth and rainfall, and thus
The trees impede the velocity of runoff on the soil surface. This thwarts soil erosion and landslides, thereby reducing possibilities of floods. The leaves that fall on the forest ground act as nutrient sources that increase soil fertility. The forests also offer shelter against adverse environmental conditions to diverse forms of wildlife.
Moreover, forests are significant not just ecologically but economically as well. Firewood, commercial timbre, gums, raisins, medicines, and other products of industrial use are obtained from forests.
Over-exploitation of forests by people of Jammu and Kashmir has been continuing unabated despite government’s best possible efforts to curb this. Increased urbanization has resulted in mass deforestation.
Indiscriminate felling of trees for converting forest-lands into agricultural fields, for industrialization or mining, and overgrazing by domestic animals are all contributing to loss of this exhaustible natural resource. If the pace at which forests are being destroyed is taken into account, this is the remaining rainforests could disappear within the next fifty years.
The consequence is loss of biodiversity. Many species of plants and animals are already extinct. Others are also fading away, due to loss of habitat. Apart from the loss of genetic resources, this also entails loss of essential medicinal herbs and even several aboriginal tribes. Other major impacts include soil erosion, flooding, and desertization. Perhaps the most severe outcome is global warming due to the greenhouse effect. Increased deforestation has led to
the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, like carbon
dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbon.
This is heating up the atmosphere and the temperature is rising. The resultant climate change has already affected crops, animal and forest growth across Jammu and Kashmir. In Kashmir, devastating floods have clearly shown how dangerous deforestation is. Agriculture and aquaculture both will suffer and if timely steps are not taken to prevent this, the entire state will be endangered.