Jammu and Kashmir’s ‘green gold’ – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism

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Supriya Sharma
Forest resources are known as “green gold” because they are precious like gold and need to be protected more than gold. They help to preserve the ecosystem, soil conservation, serve as a home for birds and animals, also provide food as well as wood for construction. The weather is also optimized in the summer if forests are present as the trees help cool the wind and act as natural air conditioners for nearby areas.
We can appreciate this fact in the city of Jammu and nearby areas where the temperature in summer has reached record highs whereas it was not the case 50 years ago. Our grandparents said that whenever there was an increase in temperature, rains would hit our town, but due to excessive cutting of trees for development and construction activities, Jammu has become a jungle of concrete and that is the reason for such an increase in temperature here.
This phenomenon is not localized but is observed all over the world where deforestation takes place which, in turn, leads to global warming.
The spatial distribution of the different natural vegetation types in the J&K state is divided into the following types:
* Temperate forest: The wide slopes of Pir Panjal, Great Himalayas, Zanskar and Karakoram between 1,500 m and 3,000 m are completely dominated by temperate forests. The species usually present in these forests are dominated by the deodar (cedrus deodara), the pine (pinus), the silver fir, the spruce, the fir, the elm, the cedar, the ash, the birch, the birch with paper and hazel.
The northern slopes of Pir Panjal are dominated by deodar, blue pine and the forest division of Jhelum (which spans Gulmarg and the Lolab Valley) is dominated by conifer species of cedar, fir and spruce . Therefore, on the beneficial part, temperate forests are used for timber, firewood, charcoal, and house construction.
The exhaustion of deodar’s most valuable timber forest has been confined to the northwest corner of the Kashmir division. The overexploitation of forests and the use of soft and expensive wood for fuel seriously damage the income of UT as well as the aesthetic beauty of UT and, above all, the ecosystem all over the earth. In fact, many ecosystems have lost their resilience characteristics.
* Alpine Pastures: Grasses belonging to the upper regions of the J&K mountain system are known as Margs or Alpine Pastures. The mountain pastures are between 3600m and 4000m above sea level. The alpine climate is extremely cold for most of the year. From May to September (in summer), the ice melts at high altitudes and lush green grasses grow. Dwarf varieties of birches and junipers are the shrubs present in these regions.
The lush green and nutritious grasses of the alpine pastures are used and grazed by the Gujjars and Bakarwals (goat herders) who practice transhumance. They remain in the Margs pastures until mid-September, depending on temperature and rainfall conditions.
Subtropical forests: Subtropical rainforests are confined to the Siwaliks and the lower slopes of the middle Himalayas. Due to rainfall and favorable moderate climate and edaphic factors, there is a wide range of vegetation. Bushes and scrub are both present in these regions. The dominant species of subtropical forests are teak, sal, shisham, pipal (ficus). Silver Pine, Tun, Mohowa, Khair, thorn bushes, vines, evergreen shrubs and tall grasses locally called Khar. Most of these species are deciduous leafy types. The trees lose their leaves during the months of January, February and March. These forests are mainly used for firewood, timber, construction of houses, etc. The forest produces beneficial products such as resins, gum, katha and medicinal herbs also from the subtropical forests of UT.
The forest cover of the J&K is decreasing. The forest is being destroyed and depleted at a faster rate. The immense pressure due to overpopulation and people’s ignorance are rapidly damaging the ecosystem of these forests.
Forests act as lungs for nature. It purifies and oxygenates the air we inhale. It is also the home of various species of plants and animals. Governments have realized the importance of trees in urban areas and that is why they plant trees as part of urban forestry programs and educate the general public about the importance of greenery around us. NGOs also work for the preservation of forests and the renewal of depleted forests.
You will appreciate the fact that the University of Jammu is one of those areas that is full of trees all around. There is a distinct difference in temperature in the campus since it is 2-3 degrees lower than adjacent places. This is why the campus is bustling with morning and evening walkers, as people love to walk there. The environment is calm and relaxed only because it is a green campus.
We all need to work together to rejuvenate the lost “green gold” by showing our little support by planting trees in our homes as well as in the locality. It would be great if we could plant fruit trees so that we can get fresh fruit without any chemical sprays or fertilizers in our locality. Parents should encourage their children to plant at least 5 fruit trees every year on their birthday, and by doing so, our future generations would definitely benefit from a clean and fresh environment and appreciate our efforts to save the environment.
(The author of this article is a PhD student in the Department of Zoology, University of Jammu)

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