Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about Trees and deforestation in Rajasthan, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Deforestation in India is the widespread destruction of major forests and it is caused by several factors, including the growing population, industrialization and urbanization. The need to clear forested areas for agriculture, infrastructure development and settlements has resulted in a decline in forest cover and eforestation causes extinction, changes to climatic conditions, desertification and displacement of populations.
Deforestation in India is the widespread destruction of major forests and it is caused by several factors, including the growing population, industrialization and urbanization. The need to clear forested areas for agriculture, infrastructure development and settlements has resulted in a decline in forest cover and eforestation causes extinction, changes to climatic conditions, desertification and displacement of populations.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Trees in India

Trees are an integral part of India's diverse ecosystem, playing a crucial role in stabilizing temperatures and providing food, shelter and materials for humans and animals alike. But the deforestation is mainly caused by environmental degradation by stakeholders such as farmers, ranches, loggers and plantation corporations.

How has deforestation affected India?

Deforestation has affected the lives of wild animals and birds including bats. Due to deforestation India is facing water problems in urban cities and villages.

Trees play a significant role
Not only in India but all over the world in reducing erosion and moderating the climate, where they are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues. Trees and forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants. Tropical rainforests are among the most biodiverse habitats in the world. Trees provide shade and shelter, timber for construction, fuel for cooking and heating and fruit for food as well as having many other uses. In much of the world, forests are shrinking as trees are cleared to increase the amount of land available for agriculture. Because of their longevity and usefulness, trees have always been revered, with sacred groves in various cultures and they play a role in many of the world's mythologies.

India is home to over 15,000 species of trees, many of which are native to the subcontinent. These include 'Sal', 'Balete', 'Goolar', 'Rodden', 'Kusum', 'Mogra' and many other types of trees. Trees have a deep spiritual significance in India, often symbolizing wisdom, prosperity and protection. As such, they are deeply respected and protected by locals and the government. In fact, India has taken several major steps to ensure the conservation of its forests and wildlife, but not everybody agree.

"The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in habitat damage, biodiversity loss and aridity. Deforestation causes extinction, changes to climatic conditions, desertification and displacement of populations, as observed by current conditions and in the past through the fossil record. Deforestation also reduces biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, increasing negative feedback cycles contributing to global warming"

The degradation of forest ecosystems
Forestry in India is more than just about wood and fuel. India has a thriving non-wood forest products industry, which produces latex, gums, resins, essential oils, flavours, fragrances and aroma chemicals, incense sticks, handicrafts, thatching materials and medicinal plants. About 60 percent of non-wood forest products production is consumed locally. About 50 percent of the total revenue from the forestry industry in India is in non-wood forest products category. It has been traced to economic incentives that make forest conversion appear more profitable than forest conservation. Many important forest functions have no markets and hence, no economic value that is readily apparent to the forests' owners or the communities that rely on forests for their well-being.

Clearing of forests over vast areas is the practice of shifting cultivation in certain parts of India, heavy soil erosion, overgrazing by pastoral groups, extraction of timber for fuel, all consequences of human occupancy of the land are the major contributors to the shrinking forest cover in India.

Unless India makes major, rapid and sustained effort to expand electricity generation and power plants, the rural and urban poor in India will continue to have to meet their energy needs through unsustainable destruction of forests and fuel wood consumption. India's dependence on fuel-wood and forestry products as a primary energy source is not only environmentally unsustainable, it is a primary cause of India's near-permanent haze and air pollution.

Protecting the environment in India
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has declared that India is 21.34 percent forested as of 2017. The government of India also recently declared 2021-2030 as the 'Decade of Forest Restoration' with a goal to plant 5 billion trees by 2030. Additionally, India has a myriad of laws to protect the environment, including the Indian Forest Act, which is the primary law governing forest management in India.

The Forest Conservation Act also helps protect forests from development and requires forest clearances to be approved by the Central Government. India has also signed agreements with other countries, such as the Paris Agreement of 2015, to protect its forests and environment. The future of India's forests is uncertain, but the country has made great strides to conserve trees and protect its forests. By creating laws to protect its forests and taking part in international agreements, India is taking steps to ensure its forests remain a vital part of its ecosystem.

"According to government statistics, nearly 14,000 km² of forests were cleared to make way for thousands of industrial projects over the past 30 years. Today less than 1/4 of India's geographic area is under forest cover. However, India's forest cover is slowly rebounding"

Forestation in India is still far behind
In recent years, India has been making strides in fighting climate change by planting more trees and shrubs to increase the green cover of the country. Despite these efforts, forestation in India is still far behind when it comes to the global average. In fact, the country is one of the most deforested countries in the world. According to the Forest Survey of India, India has about 740 million hectares of forest area, but less than one fourth of this is under dense tree cover, which is approximately 22 percent.

Open forests or degraded forests
The other remaining areas are considered either open forests or degraded forests, making India extremely vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. The destruction of forests is a long-standing problem in India, caused by both legal and illegal activities such as deforestation for agriculture and urbanization, timber and fuelwood extraction, overgrazing, pollution, expanding hydro-power dams, firewood extraction and so on.

However, the government has also taken actions to help restore Indian forests. It has set up new conservation initiatives like the National Afforestation Programme with the aim of increasing forest cover and mitigating the effects of climate change. The programme has also put in place incentives like the 'Green Aadhar', which encourages citizens to plant more trees and receive financial rewards for doing so. In 2017, the government also launched the 'Van Dhan scheme', which supports tribal communities who are experts in collecting non-timber forest products and selling them for a lucrative income. This also helps protect the forests, as it provides an economic incentive for people to preserve the forests instead of depleting them.

More recently, the Indian Government announced through 'CAMPA' that it will invest
6,000.000 rupees over the next 5 years to afforest 1 million hectares of degraded forests. This is in addition to the massive conservation efforts taking place through the creation of tiger reserves, elephant reserves and national parks. In a nutshell, India has made significant progress in restoring the forests, but much more needs to be done.

Also known as the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act a legislation that seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the centre and in each state and union territory, to ensure expeditious utilization in efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land.

See this video about deforestation in India made by Indiatimes.

"- As a passionate traveler, there is something truly magical about witnessing the Earth's astounding beauty through diverse flora and fauna. Amongst all of nature's wonders, trees hold a special place in my heart. My recent adventure to India turned out to be an enlightening journey, introducing me to the exquisite array of trees that adorn this enchanting land. From sacred groves to ancient banyans, India's trees captured my imagination and left an indelible mark on my soul. The country must invest more in programs aimed at planting trees and shrubs and preserving existing forests while educating people about the importance of conserving our planet. Only then can we hope to encourage reversing the current trends of deforestation in India and prevent further losses", the Photographer says.

"- Rajasthan, with its ethereal landscapes and ancient cities, bewitched me at every turn. Here lie some of India's most captivating banyan trees, which hold an air of mysticism and intrigue. My exploration of India's captivating trees has transformed not only my understanding of nature but the way I perceive and interact with the world and each encounter with these majestic beings left me humbled and spiritually nourished. India's rich tapestry of trees transcends their physical form, embodying a profound connection to the divine and reinforcing the importance of preserving and cherishing our natural heritage", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Wildlife in India

Wildlife in India

Read also:  Wildlife in India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a tree in Rajasthan. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.