What is afforestation, explain its importance?

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In order to maintain proper ecological balance and sustenance certain per­centage of the total land area of any country should have a forest cover. If this is reduced it results in both floods and famine. In afforestation pro­gramme forest trees are planted in suitable areas and also on waste land. Exotic and fast growing tree species which do not disturb the ecological balance are planted.

There are two major goals for forestry. These are:

(i) Supply of forest goods (timber etc.) to people and Industry by a well throughout plan of production.

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(ii) Long range goal of ecological safety through conservation of forest cover and its restoration.

Among the goals mentioned above the first one may be achieved by planned development of suitable forest cover and its controlled utilization. There are various kinds of afforestation methods to suit particular requirements.

1. Limited production forests:

Areas which are less fertile, more than 1000 mtrs in altitude and having a hilly topography can be used for development of forests. A part of the annual production of the forests may be used in a limited way so as not to damage soil and trees. Even after utilization the health of the forest should not be affected.

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2. Production forests:

These are forests meant for high degree of produc­tion. Felling and logging should be done on scientific lines. In these areas efforts are made to generate forests and not plantations.

3. Commercial forestry:

The basic aim is to supply goods and services and meet the needs of people, for firewood, fodder, food, fibre, timber etc. In our country where the forest cover is only about 14% another 70 million hectares of additional forest cover has to be created in order to meet the demands. This can be done by the following methods.

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Intensive plantations: Planting of suitable trees on all the available land including road sides to remove pressure on natural forests. Social forestry, Agro forestry programmes are included in this category. This would meet all the needs of fuel, fodder, fertilizer, food, fibre, timber etc. and prevents denudation of valuable natural forests.

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