Afforestation is a process of planting trees or sowing seeds in barren lands so as to create a forest. It is also a process to plant more trees in an area where the number of trees has dwindled due to any reason, including deforestation. With increasing awareness of the significance of trees, many government and non-government agencies are coming forward to join in afforestation effort. The importance of trees is well-known, as it is an important tool to improve upon the environment. It leads to betterment of the environment as well as quality of life, and gives forest produce in diverse forms which can be used in several industries.
The number of trees has gone down due to increasing demand for wood for different purposes, especially fuel and timber. It is associated with several environmental problems, including depletion of the ozone layer and shortage of water due to decreased rainfall. Afforestation helps in checking atmospheric carbon dioxide, curb the environmental effect caused due to burning of fossil fuels, industrialisation etc.
Ideally, one-third of the land should be under forests. In India, it was below 20 percent in 1980. However, the government paid attention to this fact especially after 1991. As a result, by 2006, forest areas rose to to about 69 million hectare, which is 23 percent. Even after 60 years of independence, our contribution to world forest coverage is far below the world average, mainly because we need land for settlement, industries, roads, railways, farming and other projects. In rural India, due weightage must be given to rural and farm forestry for multi-faceted needs of the rural society. Also afforestation campaigns can be made more successful by creating awareness among the masses.
Afforestation helps only when it is done in a planned manner. Planting trees just about anywhere without knowledge of the nature and properties of plants can prove non-productive. Also, just planting trees at random places is not profitable. Before starting any campaign, one should know about the land and suitable trees so as to generate more oxygen and useful forest products. Afforestation is a positive effort in curbing the overuse and destruction of natural forests. If done with proper planning and at appropriate sites, it can become a commercially viable solution for meeting many human needs without harming the balance of nature.