Sunday, September 4, 2011

Useful forest trees

For tribal communities the jungle means more that tigers and leopards. In time of duress they had survived on offerings of the forests. Pushed into deep recess of the forest by invading civilization they lived for long with the womb of the jungles. With a benevolent governance things began to change but then massive destruction of the forest lands left nothing for the forest dwellers.  

Any way time had come for them to join the mainstream. But with very little understanding of the modern world and little education they are trapped in the quagmire of an overpowering civilization. Likewise the wild denizens are in a greater stress due to terribly reduced habitat. The man animal conflict have pushed many species to the brink of extinction. 

The tribal communities still survive on minor forest produce like Mahua, Chironzi, Ber, Amla, Palas and many shrubs that are used as medicine. These produce are in short supplies and their saleability is going down. Mahua fruits in obtained from the Mahua tree which grows well in the jungles. The  fruits are used to  make butter and liquor the latter from dried fruits. The tree has many medicinal properties as well. 

Similarly the Char tree yields a very tasty fruit and the seed is used to garnish condiments. The tree grows well in the Central Indian forests. Amla or Gooseberry tree is the boon of the forests as the fruit is rich in vitamin C and consumed by vast population in India. Ber is a popular fruit eaten all over India. The tree is a medium sized shrub that grows few feet above the ground. Palas tree yields a yellow orange dye that is used in coloring and in the Holi festival. The Palas Bark exudes a resinous substance called Lac in Hindi. It is used for sealing envelops and other packaging.  

The powdered bark of Arjun tree found near streams and nullahs is used as a blood pressure medicine. Similary many forest trees yield edible fruits like Bel, Kaitha, Morchhali, Jamun to name a few. The forest help conserve water but also offer survival materials to humans.

The destruction of habitats has not only exterminated endemic species. It has resulted in loss of many natural products useful to humans. If we do not save our trees a wonderful natural heritage would be lost for ever.          
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