The Government of India had observed that forests particularly closer to the human settlement had deteriorated over the years due to increased activities of humans. Thus, there was a need for more plantations which could stretch to unused land like the ones beside the agricultural fields, rail tracks, rivers and roads. Many other portions of land were identified for social forestry like the Government’s wasteland, common land of the villages, panchayat land etc.
Benefits of social forestry scheme on humans
The rise in population has led to more demand for fuel wood, fodder, timber etc. The pressure on the forests has been mounting high. Degeneration of forests means degeneration of the healthy environments of humans as well as other living species. The government came up with the social forestry scheme so that the citizens realize and participate in afforestation of unused lands and also help restoration of degraded forests. Humans can enjoy benefits of following types of forestry under social forestry:
- Agro-forestry – same piece of land is used to grow food crop and also for orchard farming and livestock ranching with good agricultural management techniques
- Community forestry – fertilizers and seeds are provided by government to communities so that they can together maintain the community forest
- Farm forestry – trees are grown for commercial and non-commercial purposes
- Extension forestry – forestry on all wastelands along the roads, rail tracks, river canals etc.
The benefits would be in the form of climate change and generation of employment opportunities by selling forest products apart from ofcourse the health benefits.
Impact of social forestry on health
Forests are excellent for the ecosystem of the rural as well as urban areas. The temperature gets regulated, there is air-filtration and many kinds of medicinal plants are grown. Forestry creates a good visual environment which plays a great role in good mental health. People find the sight of forest very soothing for their overall cognitive and physiological well-being. If there are any four kinds of social forestry around (agro, community, farm or extension forestry), it stimulates physical activity which in return helps in dealing with contemporary health issues like obesity, diabetes and coronary diseases. Forest is a therapy in itself! Find it for yourself.