Environmental Issues - Notes | Class 12 | Part 5: Degradation by Improper Resource Utilization



Soil erosion and desertification:

Human activities like over-cultivation, deforestation, grazing and poor irrigation practices, leads to soil erosion. It results in arid patches of land and desertification.

Increased urbanization also creates desertification.

Water logging and soil salinity:

These are the problems as a part of Green Revolution.

Irrigation without proper drainage of water leads to water logging in the soil.

It draws salt to the surface of the soil. The salt is deposited on the land surface or collects at the plant roots. This damages the agriculture.


It is the conversion of forested areas to non-forested ones.

Almost 40% forests have been lost in the tropics, compared to only 1% in the temperate region.

National Forest Policy (1988) of India has recommended 33% forest cover for the plains and 67% for the hills. But we have only 19.4% of forest cover (it was about 30% at the beginning of 20th century).

Reasons of deforestation:
  • Conversion of forest to agricultural land.
  • For timber, firewood, cattle ranching etc.
  • Slash & burn agriculture (Jhum cultivation) in the north-eastern states of India. In this, forest trees are cut down and burn the plant remains. The ash is used as a fertiliser and the land is used for farming or grazing. After cultivation, the area is left for several years for its recovery. In earlier days, enough time-gap was given for recovery. Overpopulation & repeated cultivation decreased the recovery phase, resulting in deforestation.
Consequences of deforestation:
  • Atmospheric CO2 is enhanced because trees that could hold a lot of carbon in their biomass are lost.
  • Loss of biodiversity due to habitat destruction.
  • Disturbs hydrologic cycle.
  • Soil erosion & Desertification.
Reforestation: The process of restoring a forest that once existed in the past. It may occur naturally in a deforested area. We can speed it up by planting trees.

People’s Participation in Conservation of Forests 

1. Bishnoi movement 

In 1731, the king of Jodhpur in Rajasthan asked to arrange wood for constructing a new palace. The minister and workers went to a forest near a village, inhabited by Bishnois. The Bishnois thwarted them from cutting down the trees. A Bishnoi woman Amrita Devi hugged a tree. The king’s men cut down the tree along with Amrita Devi. They also killed her three daughters and hundreds of Bishnois.

Government of India has instituted the Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award for individuals or communities from rural areas for extraordinary courage and dedication in protecting wildlife.

2. Chipko Movement of Garhwal Himalayas 

In 1974, local women participated to protect trees from the axe of contractors by hugging them.

Government of India in 1980s introduced the concept of Joint Forest Management (JFM) to work closely with the local communities for protecting and managing forests. In return for their services, the communities get benefit of forest products (fruits, gum, rubber, medicine, etc.).
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