Every year on 11 September, National Forest Martyrs Day is marked and observed in the country. It is a day to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to protect India’s wildlife, forests, and jungles. There are still many communities and villages where the only source of livelihood is forest. Also, people protect flora and fauna as their own family. Many even risk their lives guarding and protecting it, which is why the day is observed to pay tribute and hail their contributions.
How is National Forest Martyrs Day celebrated in India?
On this particular day, several educational societies and institutions in the country organize programs or events through which people are informed about protecting the forests, trees, and environment. Every year, many competitions are conducted to ensure more and more children and youth participate so that they can be aware of conserving jungles and engage in events concerning the same.
The history behind National Forest Martyrs Day
After the Ministry of Environment and Forest declaration, this day officially came into existence, and it was in the year 2013. The ministry selected this date (11 September) because, on this day in 1730, the Khejarli massacre took place in the country. On the orders of the then king Maharaja Abhay Singh of Rajasthan, the soldiers started cutting trees to provide wood for a new palace. However, during that time, a woman identified as Amrita Devi offered her head instead of the sacred Khejarli tree. Angry over the act, people in that village rose in protest and sacrificed their lives in place of trees.
After beheading her, the soldiers slaughtered over 350 people, including Amrita’s children. After hearing about this massacre, the shocked king instantly ordered his soldiers to spot the killing people and apologized to those belonging to the Bishnoi community. Along with his apology, King Maharaja Abhay Singh declared that no cutting of trees and killing animals would occur in areas around the Bishnoi villages.
On the occasion of National Forest Martyrs Day, let us look at recent statistics and studies related to the environment in India: Forest cover is the total geographical area covered by forests.
States with the highest forest cover in the country are as follows
- Madhya Pradesh – 94,689 sq km
- Arunachal Pradesh – 51,407 sq km
- Chhattisgarh – 59,772 sq km
- Odisha – 61,204.17 sq km
- Maharashtra – 61,579 sq km
- The above states, i.e., Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Maharashtra, have the most extensive forest cover in the country. Compared to their geographical area, their forest cover is a massive contribution to the country’s total area of forest land.
States with the lowest forest cover in the country are as follows
Punjab- 3,084 sq km
Haryana- 1,559 sq km
Rajasthan -32,737 sq
Uttar Pradesh – 14,805.65 sq km
Bihar- 7,299 sq km
The above states have the lowest forest cover in the country. This is because trees are cut down when forest property is transformed for development purposes, such as road expansion. The states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar can take examples of states like Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and other states who have the most extensive forest cover and work on increasing their forest area.
On this National Forest Martyrs Day, let us examine some laws and acts to preserve forests.
1: The Indian Forest Act, 1927
The Indian Forest Act of 1927 was passed to regulate forest produce.
2: The Wildlife Protection Act, 1973
The Wildlife Protection Act, Rules 1973, and Amendment 1991 protect birds and animals and all related matters, such as their habitat, waterholes, and the woods that support them.
3: The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006
When this act was established, The NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) and the Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau also came into existence.
4: The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
The Forest (Conservation) Act was passed to give forests a better level of protection and to govern the diversion of forest areas for non-forestry purposes.
Five things you can do to save forests on this National Forest Martyrs Day.
- Plant as many trees as possible:Reforestation is a solution to the changing climate. You can help in repairing ecosystems that have been damaged by planting as many trees as you can.
- Donate to forest protection groups:You cannot always protect trees directly. Fortunately, there are numerous groups dedicated to preserving the world’s woods. You can help by supporting such groups.
- Purchase things that are forest-friendly (or certified):Buying eco-friendly products can help in forest conservation. Alternatives to traditional paper and wood goods that do not use trees are becoming increasingly popular.
- Afforestation:If you cut a tree, it should be your moral obligation to plant a tree to replace it and repay the ecosystem. This would undoubtedly assist in balancing the number of trees. Afforestation can aid in ecological balance.
- Controlling the forest fires:Using the most up-to-date firefighting techniques is essential to save forests from fire. Some fire suppression strategies include creating three-meter-wide five-lane lanes around the fire’s perimeter, backfires, and water spray arrangements.