We often remember the strange fascination trees had for us when we were very young. It was a real pleasure to climb up a tree, to perch oneself on one of its branches and play all kinds of games. If it happened to be a fruit tree, the excitement was still more there.
What fun it really was to have trees around us when we were kids. We looked up to them almost as our friends and made them active participants of many games we played when we were children.
Trees, indeed, continue to be our friends, even though we may no longer climb up for fun or games. They are a part and parcel of our natural wealth. They add to the beauty and the very life of our creation.
They make the landscape green, colourful and pleasant. It is so soothing to the eye to look at the leaves, the flowers and the fruits. The earth would be a barren place if there were no trees. It would become a desert where no life exists.
Trees, shrubs, grasses and other plants capture the energy of the sun and with the help of water, carbon dioxide and chemicals turn that energy into food for the rest of the living world.
Even meat eaters eat creatures that eat plants. Trees provide us fuel, food, fodder, timber and paper. They are shade-givers, soil-protectors and air purifiers.
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Trees can turn wastelands into mines of green gold. Trees like casuarina, which is a fast growing evergreen tree, are especially useful for reclaiming deserts. They are planted along seashores as wind breakers. Leaves, barks and fruits of certain trees are used as medicines.
A number of tree products, like resin, rubber and other products, are used in industries.
Trees play a vital role in soil conservation and economical balance. Their roots hold the soil together. They also reduce the running off of rain water and increase ground water. Ecology is the system of inter- action of all elements of the natural world—plant, mineral, animal and human.
A healthy ecology is one in which elements are in such harmony that none dominates or destroys the other. Trees, in the form of forests, help to hold this balance in a most significant manner. They provide a natural habitat for the wild life and home for the bird life.
They serve as the very basis of environmental harmony. Unfortunately, every year one and a half million hectares of forests are being cut down. This is almost as big as the area of Sikkim.
There will be an ecological catastrophe if forests are destroyed at the present rate, since the rate at which new plantations are being established is not enough. There is a real danger of losing all our forests before new ones come up.
Though, during Vanmahotsava lakhs of trees were planted, only five percent survived. Moreover, all new plantations may not survive till maturity.
However, people are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to preserve the trees and to grow more trees. Environmentalists like Dr Salim Ali and Sunderlal Bahuguna have done a great deal to educate the masses about the value of trees.
We certainly do not want the coming generation to miss the flora and fauna of our country. They may not then see the wonderful sight of butterflies flirting from flower to flower, for there may no longer be trees having lovely, bright flowers.
Trees are our friends, our best friends. We are not always aware of either their presence or their use. We tend to take them for granted. We are often not very kind to them.
But this world will cease to be beautiful if there are no trees. At last but not least, we should understand the importance of trees
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