The best possible solution to land degradation is to prevent inappropriate land-use practices on forested lands. Where this is not possible, Reforestation is one way to improve the productivity of many degraded lands and offer valuable products for the people. Trees provide fuel, wood, fodder, and other uses.Trees protect the soil from the tropical heat, wind, and rain. Soil temperatures are lower under tree canopies, permitting re-accumulation of organic matter that restores soil structure and microbiota and enhances moisture and nutrient holding capabilities. In recent years, reforestation efforts have increased. But before we dive into understanding the concept of Reforestation, it is essential to comprehend forestation. Forestation, including forest restoration, Reforestation, and afforestation, is restoring damaged forests or growing forests on currently unforested land.
Reforestation includes planting trees or enabling trees to regrow on the ground recently covered with forest. The process can provide various benefits, depending on exactly how it is done. Forest Reforestation, for instance, offers far more significant ecological and biodiversity benefits than a monoculture tree plantation does.
Reforestation and its Causes
Reforestation resembles the action of reconstructing a forest ecosystem by planting and assisting natural regeneration after a cut of human origin or a natural hazard. It is an outcome of multi-actor cooperation, particularly at the local level, and aims to restore a multifunctional forest based on biodiversity through different tree species, which will offer a wide range of ecosystem services for the well-being of all living organisms, particularly humans.
Reforestation means achieving various goals, typically climate-change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, socio-economic benefits, hydrological and soil stability, and other ecosystem services. In addition, restored native forests can deliver multiple products, such as fiber, food, medicine, and ecosystem services, including shade and erosion control, watershed protection, and recreational, spiritual, educational, and other cultural benefits.
Reforestation is replacing cut trees with a new generation for numerous reasons:
- Restoration after harvesting timber
- Refreshing after forest aging
- Compensation after the land expansion due to human activities
- Maintaining the ecosystem balance and biodiversity
- Regeneration after natural calamities
- Providing habitats for eco-communities
Reforestation In India
Despite the importance of India’s diverse forests for ecosystem services, wildlife, and the livelihood of millions of people, forests have been severely depleted across the country. In the last decade, a massive push for economic development has seen a rise in industrial projects at the expense of forests and forest lands. According to government statistics, nearly 14,000 sq. kilometers of forests were cleared to make way for thousands of industrial projects over the past 30 years.
Today less than a quarter of India’s geographic area is under forest cover. However, India’s forest cover is slowly rebounding. The Indian government has pledged numerous commitments to restore deforested and degraded landscapes. Furthermore, India is increasingly focusing on incorporating local communities into forest management. Given the livelihood advantages forests offer communities, this is excellent news in the push to get more trees in the ground and toward green India.
In 2015, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), India committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity under the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). To achieve this goal, India intends to create carbon sinks of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents by increasing its forest and tree cover to 33% of its land area.
The effort to increase tree cover by up to 33% sits within the National Mission for a Green India (GIM), one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and the earlier national forest policy goals. GIM has been focusing on increasing the tree cover to five million hectares of designated forest lands and forest on non-forest designated lands and advancing tree cover on an additional five million hectares.
India ranks number ten globally for forested area but only 120th in terms of the percent of land area under forest cover. The Forest Survey of India (FSI) conducted in 2019 estimated 807,276 square kilometers of forest and tree cover, which makes up 24.56% of the land area. The magnitude of land cover change required to meet the COP21 commitments, if achieved, has the potential to meaningfully impact the hydrological cycle of the affected landscapes, with implications for both agricultural production and irrigation potential.
Restoring forests can improve the lives of the estimated 275 million Indians that depend on them.
So, you’d like to plant some trees! As the saying goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago – the next best time is now.” But since Reforestation is labor-intensive and expensive, planning is crucial to assure success. Lack of attention to anyone’s step can lead to costly reforestation failures.
The first step to consider is the condition of the planting site. This includes soli type, amount of vegetation present, aspect, and even the kind of animals that may damage the trees. Site characteristics are essential because they affect crucial site resources – light, water, nutrients, and temperature – needed for seedling survival and growth.
Water is the most crucial factor for seedling survival and growth, particularly in the first few years after planting seedlings. Numerous methods or combinations of methods are available to prepare sites for planting. Costs depend on methods used, site conditions, existing vegetation, and the amount of logging debris or slash.
- Mechanical Methods
If there are a lot of slashes, you may need to use mechanical (tractor) or manual methods to create planting spots. Heavy slash after harvest can make it difficult to plant an area and pose a fire hazard. Disadvantages of mechanical methods are that they can remove the topsoil, compact soil, and encourage grass and other vegetation to re-establish.
- Chemical Methods
When selecting chemical methods, know which weeds you wish to control, select the appropriate herbicides registered for forestry use, and always read and follow label directions. Chemical processes are the most cost-effective and generally offer better long-term control of competing vegetation. If you are planting in an old field or if the area is too brushy, you can use a combination of chemical and manual methods. Preparing a site is not to clear a planting spot entirely but rather to expose mineral soil and decrease the amount of vegetation that competes with seedlings for moisture and light.
You can get tree seedlings for your planting area by encouraging natural seeding, trans-planting wildlings, or purchasing high-quality, nursery-grown seedlings. In addition, raw seeds of new trees from nearby parent trees can be effective under the right circumstances.
To improve seedling survival and growth, you need to match the seedling properly to the planting environment where it will be planted.
To ensure the survival and resilience of a planted forest, it is crucial to use materials with adequate levels of genetic diversity, consistent with local or regional genetic variation. Careful handling and correct planting of seedlings are vital steps to successful Reforestation—the below sub-points review some of the basics for successful planting.
- Spacing and selecting planting spots
Your planting pattern need not be perfectly square. It is more important to choose good planting spots – areas of exposed mineral soil, free of weeds – than to space trees precisely. On hot, south-facing slopes, choosing good planting spots, such as areas shaded by logs, can be more effective than planting additional trees and hoping they survive. Effective weed control can advance seedling survival on these severe sites.
- Care and Managing
Keep the seedlings cool and moist, and handle them gently. When transporting seedlings to the planting area, keep them away from direct sunlight and cover them with a reflective tarp. Store the additional seedlings temporarily in a shaded, cool area at the planting site until needed. Do not allow the seedlings to freeze.
- Tools and Planting
Planting spades, special long-bladed shovels, planting hoes, or power augers are used to plant seedlings. Planting holes should be deep enough to accommodate roots. Plant the seedling so that the roots spread downward in the planting hole and are not crammed in, forming ‘J-roots.’ Plant seedlings upright so that all the bases are well covered, and firm the soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Avoid mixing organic debris in the planting hole, such as rotten wood, needles, or branches.
Fertilizing the seedlings at planting time is not recommended under most conditions. Soil fertility usually is enough. In addition, fertilization may harm the seedlings by burning the roots, encouraging excessive top growth, or by pressing the growth of weeds that compete with seedlings.
Once the seedlings are planted, extra maintenance is often required to ensure continued survival and growth. Each year, a systematic walk through the plantation can reveal whether seedlings are alive and growing well and whether action is needed to control weeds or protect trees from animal damage.
Seedling growth is slow for the first year or two. Be sure to watch the area closely so that weeds do not reinvade before the seedlings take hold and grow. The first two years are crucial, and re-treatment may be essential to ensure survival. A healthy plantation is your reward for a job well done!
Benefits of Reforestation
By planting trees in areas that have been deforested or degraded, Reforestation helps the environment by guaranteeing or accelerating the re-establishment of healthy forest structure by regrowing the forest canopy and preserving biodiversity within the ecosystem.
Restoring or growing forests with diverse native species and functioning ecological processes can protect and promote the biodiversity of animals and plants. Rainforest Reforestation is a significant task as it combats rare species extinction, both in the kingdom of plants and the kingdom of animals.
Flood and Erosion Control
Trees can decrease flooding and erosion by absorbing moisture and making a barrier for water flows during floods. They slow down the speed of currents and improve water absorption. By impeding floods, Reforestation mitigates damage and losses.
Improved Soil Health: Reforestation improves local soil conditions for several reasons:
- Fallen branches and leaves form organic matter
- It is a habitat for soil microorganisms that participate in decomposition, boosting fertility
- Reducing water runoffs, trees conserve nutrients in the soil
- Sturdy root systems hold the soil in place and prevent erosion and landslides.
Local Economic Benefits
Forests can offer economic benefits to local communities, ranging from fuelwood and medicines to recreation. For successful deforestation and forest protection outcomes, it is crucial to always include local communities from the planning stage through to delivery and monitoring. They are the key to success and have the most to gain from the initiative. Suppose their needs are heard and considered, and they are informed about the environmental issues the initiative is addressing. In that case, they are more likely to support the initiative and help to deliver successful outcomes in the long run.
Climate Change Mitigation
Excess carbon release is a significant driver of global warming, and this is where we can use Reforestation to combat climate change. In photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon and convert it to nutrients required for their development. The younger the forest, the more carbon it can store. Thus, Reforestation is a crucial practice to eliminate climate change.
Improved Air Quality
Photosynthesis explains another advantage of Reforestation: plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, maintaining the proper balance. For this reason, forests are known as the lungs of our planet. Correspondingly, the more forests we have, the purer air we breathe. Also, Reforestation is adequate to prevent dust storms, adding to air purity.
Maintaining Water Quality and Water Cycle
Trees store rainwater by absorbing it with leaves and roots. At the same time, they also release moisture into the atmosphere via transpiration and increase humidity. This way, forests stabilize the air temperature in the nearby locality and help maintain enough water levels in the local water bodies. Since trees retain moisture and reduce runoffs, Reforestation improves water infiltration and water quality.
Bare soils are prone to wind and water erosion that may lead to desertification. Reforestation addresses the issue in two ways: a vegetation cover of the forest floor and tree roots.
How Nelda Reforestation Projects Work
Planting trees may seem like a simple action to take, but restoring forests is much more complex. Numerous details need to be ironed out before the first tree is planted to ensure a positive social and environmental impact. This includes assessing the current condition of the land and land use, knowing which local species will work best, having the excellent infrastructure and support to scale seedling production at nurseries, developing a solid pre, during, and post-planting strategy, and ensuring that local staff and volunteers are on board.
And that’s just the beginning! Nelda works with carefully vetted tree partners to determine the most effective reforestation method. In some places, this may mean supporting nature’s ability to heal itself through natural regeneration with seeds from local trees. This kind of management is often the best option when the land is degraded rather than deforested and has a chance of coming back on its own if given the proper support.
We always prioritize native, ecologically appropriate seedlings when selecting tree species to plant. We also think about the condition of the land and the goals for the project. This can mean choosing climate change resilience, forest fire adaptations, sustainable food and forest products, wildlife habitat potential, durability against floods and cyclones, etc. Want to help support Reforestation? Connect with Nelda today itself to know more!
If Reforestation is deemed necessary, like when the land is damaged and the seed stock is completely destroyed, we at Nelda grow and plant native seedlings to give the ecosystem a boost. At Nelda, we want to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees.
Together we can restore forests, create habitat for biodiversity, and make a positive social impact around India. Since our establishment, we have been dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment, create a healthier climate, secure biodiversity, and help reforestation efforts.
Synonymous to champion, Nelda Foundation is an NGO working relentlessly and devotedly towards preserving the environment, specifically regarding the scarcity of trees. We believe that each one of us needs to take responsibility for the environment and work towards making it a better place to live. If you or your company wants to do Tree Plantation in Pune, Nelda can be your best companion.
With our powerful experience and vigor for the initiative, anything can be possible. With our army of volunteers and years of experience, we can work together to make your plantation drive in Pune successful. You can either donate saplings to Nelda to be planted in Pune or join us with your team to run your tree plantation drive.
We also provide Tree Plantation services throughout Maharashtra, where we help companies and organizations do Tree Plantation. We aim to help people plant and grow a billion trees in India in 25 years. So join us to make this world a greener place!