ByÂ Brikesh Singh:
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another”- M.K. Gandhi
In the month of July 2012 when I was travelling through different parts of the country to find out the true cost of electricity I met Chote Singh, a forest dweller and a Gondh tribe member from Budher Village in Mahan, Singrauli district. He was going in the forest to collect firewood and I decided to walk with him. On our way inside the forest, I saw a bonfire which was almost dying and I asked him what’s with this bonfire here? He said, “It’s a funeral pyre, an old lady had died in the neighbouring village and was cremated in the forest last night.” I shot another question. “Don’t you have a crematorium here?” He said, “Sahab, the forest is our home. It takes care of all our needs from cradle to cremation.” That statement will always stay with me, but Chote Singh, along with 15,000 other families whose livelihoods depend on this forest are facing the threat of losing their home forever, due to coal mining.
Skin is the biggest organ in a human body and if you suffer burns of 70-80%, even if all the other organs inside the body are working fine you won’t be able to survive. Forests are the skin of our planet and mankind is busy ripping it apart at the size of a football field every 2 seconds. Here are some facts for you, 15% of Amazon and 72% of Indonesia’s intact forests have been lost forever. Orangutan habitat in Indonesia and neighbouring regions has been slashed by 55% and Bornean orangutans have halved in population in the last half century.
India is busy destroying forests at the rate of 333 acres daily. In fact, according to a report released by FSI (Forest survey of India) on 7th Feb 2012 India had lost 367 sq kilometres in just two years. To put it in perspective, it’s twice the size of Kolkata. 1.1 million hectares of forests in central and eastern India which is home to 35% of the 1,700 tigers left in the wild may be destroyed forever due to 13 proposed coal fields alone.
Around the world, lush tropical forests are being logged for timber and pulp, cleared to grow food, for mining, building urban habitats and destroyed by the impacts of climate change. 80% of the forest that covered almost half of the earth’s land surface eight thousand years ago have already been irreplaceably degraded or destroyed.
I don’t think we need to go back to school to learn that cutting down forests and burning the coal that lies underneath will release large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. This will heat up the atmosphere and threaten all life on earth as the climate changes unpredictably. What we do need to do is unlearn what development actually means. What is the point of development if it’s coming at the cost of destroying our forests forever?
I cannot imagine living in a world where humans are the only species left and definitely not with the guilt of not trying to protect the forests when we have the opportunity to.
21st of March is the International Day of Forests and I have decided to stand for forests. All I ask of you is to join me in a ‘Thunderclap’! This is a tool where people can register to join the social media day of action through their Facebook/Twitter account as a simple one click registration giving permission to this tool to post a fixed message on their behalf on their social media account.
On 21st March, millions of people from around the world will become a part of this movement to send a strong message of strength and solidarity. And you can be one of them!
So please click here and register through your Facebook and Twitter account and let’s occupy social media for our dying forests.
About the author: Brikesh Singh works as a Mobilisation Manager with Greenpeace India. You can follow him twitter @brikesh