One-man mission to offset loss of forests

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One-man mission to offset loss of forests

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 | Kumar Chellappan | KOCHI

One-man mission to offset loss of forests

Deforestation has devoured vast swathes of forest areas in the once heavily forested Kerala. Hydro electric projects, quarrying, mining and clearance of reserve forests for planting eucalyptus and cultivation of cannabis have robbed the southern State of its wild forests, and what remains today is the skeleton of dense forests, which, according to poets, is what Mother Earth has got as dowry.

The loss of forests has led to climate change and very high temperatures (45 degrees Celsius on an average) and irreversible changes in the weather pattern. The Southwest monsoon that earlier brought copious rainfall during May-July often plays truant or is rain-deficient.

Human encroachment of forest lands disturbs the ecological balance forcing wild animals like elephants, tigers, leopards, boars and cheetahs to leave their habitat and enter human settlements in search of food and water setting up a human-animal conflict. Some of these runaway animals get killed if they become a threat to humans.

Some of the inexperienced veterinary doctors also become a cause of death of such animals while trying to tranquilise them for capture.

Steps in a fighter for afforestation:  Instead of crying over the rapid loss of forest cover, MR Hari, a Left activist who set up the State’s first information technology company, has launched an innovative mission to grow forests in cities, towns, rural areas and wherever there is a small piece of land.

The managing director of Invis Multi Media, the Thiruvanathapuram-based company is not the one who depends on any Government help. His vast reading took him to the world of Akira Miyawaki, the Japanese environmentalist who discovered the healing power of forests and the philosophy behind restoring Earth’s balance with Native Trees.

Enthused by what Prof. Miyawaki has written, Hari caught the next available flight to Tokyo where he had a lengthy and wide- ranging discussion with the professor.

“You do not require vast tracts of land for afforestation. Whatever forests have been destroyed are lost forever. Prof Miyawaki taught me that a forest model equivalent to the natural forests could be retrieved even on small tracts of land,” Hari told The Pioneer.

Each region has its own flora and fauna and we should focus on them instead of planting saplings alien to the region.  “In ordinary forestation, we plant 400 trees per acre. But, according to Prof Miyawaki, one acre of such land could hold 16,000 saplings. Out of these, 4,000 grow into trees. The Miyawaki forests could be grown in any crowded cities. All you need is a small space to jam-pack with saplings,” said Hari.

Hari, a professional IT consultant- turned forester has planted thousands of Miyawaki forests across Kerala during the last six years. “We selected 4,000 species of plants and trees and this includes traditional herbs and medicinal plants for home remedies. These saplings grew into two-meter- high trees in six months. During the last four years we have grown 50,000 plants,” explained Hari, who is popularly known as Great Forester among ecologists.

 What is unique about Miyawaki Model is that no model would fit into it which is detrimental to the ‘inheritors of earth’ and the natural food chain. “Forests are repositories of almost all species. No insecticide or pesticide is used in these forests. The species surviving in the forests do not eat away the forests. The nature itself has established a balance between the hunters and the hunted,” said Hari.

Even the National Capital can have thousands of Miyawaki Forests and this could bring down the summer temperatures to levels that existed way back in the 1900s.

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