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India’s forests are able to sustainably meet only one sixth of the country’s demand for fuel wood.

The Sunderbans in the Gangetic Delta are the largest mangrove forests in the world housing a large variety of wildlife and plant species.

ban.jpg (12360 bytes)The Great Banyan Tree in the Indian Botanical Garden in Howrah, West Bengal is now 232 years old and looks more like a mini forest than a single tree. Environmentally it provides many amenities such as the emission of a large volume of oxygen and absorption of carbon dioxide, mitigation of several air pollutants such as dust, sulphur dioxide, etc. Its large root system helps to bind the soil and maintain ground water levels. When a single tree can sustain a broad spectrum of biological diversity and ecological security, think of the benefits a whole forest can provide.

A species is said to be extinct when it has not been seen for over 50 years. On the Indian subcontinent at least four birds have presumably become extinct since 1870. They are the Mountain Quail, Doublebanded Courser, Forest Spotted Owlet and the Pinkheaded Duck. Nearly 23 species of animals are believed to be extinct in India, the Indian cheetah and the lesser Indian rhino are two of the better known ones.

Heard of culture restaurants but what are vulture restaurants? They are feeding stations aimed at saving the ultimate scavengers on earth from extinction –over 100 such restaurants exist in S. Africa, Spain, Italy, France, etc. The menu – skinned mammal carcasses, chipped bones, clean water and the ambience with perches for resting. In India the vulture population is rapidly decreasing, the possible reasons include indiscriminate use of pesticides or a virus, which has affected the birds.

The grieving elephant Damini starved herself to death at the Lucknow zoo after seeing her friend Champakali die in calf birth. The capacity for love and friendship is not limited to humans beings alone, animals too possess it.

Thailand’s famous crippled logging elephant Motola, got an artificial foot from a US company that makes prosthetic devices. A team of surgeons, from Chiang Mai University in N.Thailand, amputed Motola’s left foot. It was shredded by an anti-personnel land mine.

Trees to reverse migration? There is a movement launched by the elders of Barwakatal village in the Garhwal hills to encourage the children who leave the village to come back. They have decided to motivate the children to plant trees and orchards. They will thereby establish roots in the village even if they go to the cities and will want to come home to tend to the trees they have planted.

The Iwokrama International Rain Forest Programme is the world’s largest adventure in sustainable management of prestine tropical rainforest in the Amazon. It covers 3,60,000 hectres of rainforest in Guyana and has been pledged for the global experiment. It demonstrates that the tropical forests could provide economic benefits without destroying its biological diversity. It is based on the promise that sustainable development can improve the quality of human life while operating within carrying capacity of a supporting ecosystem.

Eco-friendly Gir villages: 200 families living in the Gir sanctuary have agreed to switch from firewood to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) under a ecodevelopment project. This means that fewer trees will be felled in the wooded sanctuary, home to the Asiatic lion.

Every disappearing plant takes with it 10 to 30 other animal or plant species dependent upon it for survival.

Causes of loss of biodiversity –increasing human population –increasing consumption levels –decreasing efficiency of use. All these lead to overexploitation and manipulation of ecosystems, which, through a chain of events, culminates in extinction of species.

Afforestation is directly related to food security, more forests mean more rainfall and increased agricultural production. A new government project aims to increase the forest cover by about 33%. It will be funded by 28 international donor agencies. It aims to not only conserve the existing forest but also enhance the forest cover.