The term ‘afforestation’ should not be confused with ‘reforestation’, which is the planting of native trees into a forest that has decreasing numbers of trees. While reforestation is increasing the number of trees of an existing forest, afforestation is the creation of a ‘new’ forest. The best part about afforestation is that once the trees are fully grown, they become self-sustainable, which means that they do not require a lot of. Afforestation is also relatively cheap compared to other flood management schemes.
Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide is an established fact. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is increasing in today’s world for various reasons viz., deforestation, burning of fossils fuels, industrialization, mining etc. Therefore, the need to plant more trees and plants for higher absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is imperative. When non-forest areas are converted to forests, the growth of additional trees boosts forests and their ability to store carbon. It has also been suggested that large scale afforestation could successfully absorb the CO2 generated by the burning of the fossil fuels, coal and oil.
Continuous deforestation over the past centuries has disturbed and harmed the earth’s ecosystem at an increasing rate. In addition to that, greenhouse effect, climate changes, soil erosion are some other dangers to the ecological balance that we are facing today. Therefore, afforestation is considered an important environment tool. The practice of planting more trees on available lands is being increased commendably. According to a report published by the Australian National University, the area under plantation forests globally had increased to 135 million hectares by 1997, with annual plantation afforestation and reforestation rates nearing 10 per cent of the total area.
With the never ending demand for wood fuels and building materials, the need for plantation of more trees has also increased. In woodlands the trees are heterogeneous and due to their sensitivity, usage and slow growths cannot be used incessantly for commercial purposes like wood products. Afforesting specific types of trees both for the industries and for the environment will be a smart move. Afforestation ensures trees and plants that hold the soil in these sensitive areas, remain protected. Deforestation can lead to the depletion of trees in water catchments and riverside zones.
Agroforestry, that is a combination of agriculture and forestry, is another way of planting trees and plants and something being practiced extensively with constant assiduity in many countries.
Here, trees along with agricultural crops are grown in croplands and the benefits of agroforestry include:
1)Checks soil erosion
2)Enables better retention of water
3)Protects crops from excessive heat and sun damage
4)Provides supply of timber, fruit, and fodder for cattle apart from crop production
Benefits of afforestation