Tag Archives: forests

What can tree rings can tell about forest fires?

At school, I’m sure every child was once fascinated by the knowledge that the rings on a tree trunk can tell it’s age. The very fact that the age of a tree can be recorded this way used to be unreal, and to actually count the rings of a cut tree and figuring out the age of a tree in front of us was an inexplicable discovery.

Trees can be dated in a variety of ways; dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) is but one of them. In recent times, this method has been criticized by many people because of the contradiction it provides. Why would you cut and kill a tree, just so you can figure out it’s age? One such mistake in 1964 had lead to the cutting of the world’s oldest tree at that time. An accident that could have been avoided, if the method of dating trees were different.

However, tree rings are very valuable for various other reasons. That is why, the study of dendrochronology still continues with an altered methodology. Scientists do not cut the entire tree to look at the trunk as a slab, but use drills to cut out a small, thin core of the tree that fully captures the information embedded in the core. Not only do they record the age, but can also serve as an important in climate studies and fire predictions. This characteristic is now being used to recontruct climate record pertaining to forest fires, and can be helpful in discerning patterns of fire in a particular region.

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Biological Diversity Act, 2002

India’s humongous and lavish spread of ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, deserts, coastal and marine has been a subject of global admiration. India boasts of being one of the seventeen (17) most-biodiversity rich countries (technically known as the “mega diverse countries) in the world. So, how does this make India better than other countries? […]

via India’s journey to protect biodiversity – Are we on the right track? — Vidya Vijayaraghavan

Ever wondered what happens when you sweep fallen leaves?

Autumn has just passed us by. Every autumn, we see a spectacle of colors all around us. In most temperate regions, leaves change into many different colors. Then, they fall off.

The only irritating thing about autumn is the fallen leaves. It can clog up drains, create a mess in our gardens and roads, and make things minutely uncomfortable for all of us. But, it is uncomfortable enough for us to do something about it. What do we do?

We sweep away these leaves and collect them in a pile. Here, the leaves are covered up so that they don’t fly and spread in the wind, and eventually they are burned. An innocent response to mess, you would say. But have you ever thought what it can cause?

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Land degradation: Role of deforestation

Forests are invaluable to humans, both for us to life and to keep our economy going. Look around your room. I bet you can name more than 10 things in your room that is directly, or indirectly obtained from a forest.

But here’s the paradox: while we need standing forests to live, we need to cut down forests to pursue our economic and agricultural activities. In the last 10,000 years

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Forest fires and climate change: is there a link?

While the cases of forest fires have been increasing all over the world, most of them have been due to human activities and carelessness. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Forest Survey of India believes that 95% of the fires caused are due to human negligence. In this post, I’m going to be looking at whether climate change is having an effect on the intensity and frequency of the caused forest fires.

We need to understand two things if we are to see if climate change will have an impact on forest fires:

(1) What kind of effects does climate change bring with it?

(2) Do these effects supplement causes of fires?

(3) What has been the trend in the last 10 years?

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Forest Fires: A burning issue

Forests have been a natural resource that humans have depended on for millions of years. Today, forests are also one of the most “endangered” natural resource. We are cutting down about 13 million hectares of forest per year all over the world. Asia has the lowest forest cover in the world; less than 20% of the total land area. In India, the current statistics say that forests cover 21% of the land in the country (which could be slightly higher than the actual cover. Governments are known to exaggerate stats).

Estimated deforestation, by type of forest and time period (pre 1700-2000) – FAO (2012)0
Forest cover changes from 1700-2010. Source: FAO (2012)

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We are at a watershed moment

Dear 21st century humans,

Our generation is a special one. We may be the last one to see some beauty on this planet. Or we can take responsibility and make this planet sustainable for the generations to come. The result, is in our hands.

The other day, I came across an article about Bangalore (or Bengaluru, if you prefer). It was shocking. It predicted that Bangalore, the city, will be unlivable in 5 years. What?! The Garden City, unlivable in 5 years? You have got to be kidding me!

Here’s what the city I remember looked like.

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