The area under forest cover has diminished over the years. The forests are cleared for many reasons like cultivation, commerce, and housing as well for development activities like the construction of roads, railways and hydroelectric plants. Is it a recent phenomenon? The answer is NO. Since the beginning of civilization, people have been cutting tress and clearing land in the forest areas to meet the ever growing demand of food from increasing population. People in the forest areas mostly follow a method of slash and burn which is also called shifting cultivation. In this method, they clear a patch of forest, cultivate crops on it and discard that area in the following season. This method is followed in every new area. After a few years they return to the same area. This method of cultivation is proved to be good as the land was left uncultivated for a long period of time. This allowed the forest area to be regenerated and this also allows the soil to become stabilize. As the tress fall, the soil becomes less fertile because the nutrient-giving vegetation layer is removed. This leads to severe soil erosion. However, if the land is left on its own to regenerate, the area re-grows and the soil becomes stable.
At the present moment, this method of cultivation causes widespread damage to the area. Due to increase in population it has become unfeasible for people to find new area every time for cultivation. They are forced to cultivate on the same plot of the land. Forest areas are being converted to settlements. This has put pressure on the forest areas to regenerate and the end result is that many forest areas are turning into wasteland due to frequent cultivation. Another reason of soil erosion is the frequent grazing of animals on the young shoots and seedlings in the forest. As they forest areas are less and animals are more this is affecting the land and making the soil prone to erosion.
It is become utmost necessary for the Government and the communities to take measures to save the forest from further depletion and degeneration. Planting trees on large scale should be encouraged. People residing in the rural and forestry areas should be educated and make aware of the damage done by felling of tress. Instead of cutting the whole tree they should be encouraged to cut the branches, twigs and leaves of the trees for meeting their daily requirement. Horticulture and terrace farming is also a good source of income and people should be encouraged to adopt this method of cultivation.