Thursday, May 26th, 2022 13:17:33

Are We Really Prepared for Climate Action?

By Viral Desai
Updated: March 7, 2022 11:16 am

We realise that the need of the hour is to have a definite policy on urban forests. And we understand that it is the responsibility of the government or the system. In this regard, I am very hopeful that in the near future as part of this climate action our country and the states will come up with a specific policy regarding urban forests and laws for its protection. But is climate action the sole responsibility of the government? Does a ordinary citizen have no role or responsibility in the field of climate action?

Definitely yes. This is the responsibility of all citizens of the country and all kinds of governments and authorities. That is why if one side is inactive or weak in putting efforts for climate action, it is certain that we as a country will not be able to succeed in the direction of climate action. We should focus on the urban forest. In the last article we discussed that Urban Forest now needs a policy and protection. But the question here is whether urban forests will be really developed once the policy is ready or the laws are made ? And can we expect that there will be public participation in the protection of the prepared urban forests?

Because it is almost impossible to grow and protect urban forests without public participation. That is why Japan’s model is the best model in the world, which teaches the whole world what should be the ideal role and responsibility of government and the concern and care of citizens for urban forests!

We all know what happened to Japan at the end of World War II. In just three days after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan in 1945, some 1.5 lakh people were killed and it took Japan almost twenty years to rise again. But Japan is not only a country of material progress, but also a country of spiritual progress. And that is why Japan  focused all its efforts to raise the standard of living of the citizens by strengthening their morale.

In those struggles, Japan focused not only on industrialization and urbanization, but also focused on nature conservation as its main agenda. The budget that was allocated and focused on rebuilding the people devastated by the nuclear attack, the same focus and a similar budget was allocated towards rebuilding and raising the urban forests.

If we take a look at the statistics after the nuclear attack, when the attack took place in the year 1945, there were only 48000 trees left in and around Tokyo. That means more than 60 percent of the trees were destroyed by the nuclear attack! Thirty-five thousand other trees were also destroyed due to the after effects of the nuclear attack and wildfires! I shudder to think how serious this situation would have been!

But in the year 1946, the second year after the nuclear attack, the Japanese government formulated a special policy to reserve 10 % of the urban land of any city in Japan for  reserved urban forest and try best to fill the streets of the city with as many trees as possible and make the desolated areas in suburbs blooming with trees and develop them as a park! Now it is seriously thought ptovoking that a country that has been completely ruined in every way prioritizes its focus on stabilizing its citizens or on policies for trees?

But Japan focused on both at the same time, because seventy-five years back Japan realised that urbanization or progress without trees or nature is not worth it. Due to this policy of Japan, in a period of only 35 years, that is, by the year 1980, the number of matured street trees in Tokyo alone had reached 2,35,000, which has now reached around 4,30,000 trees.! By 1990, In Tokyo, dense urban forest had developed on 21,630 hectares of land. This was quite remarkable and proud achievement for Tokyo!

But Japan did not stop here only. Other statistics show that the urban forest had not only restored biodiversity and ecosystems, but also improved Tokyo’s air quality and the happiness of the Japanese people, including Tokyo! Apart from that, Japan often faces natural calamities like storms, Tokyo has benefited a lot from storm water control due to the urban forests.Tokyo could also get access to extremely clean drinking water as groundwater levels in the city of Tokyo improved because of the urban forests.

Because of this illustrious transformation, environmentalists and researchers  from all over the world have come to study the Tokyo model, and there has been widespread discussion of the Tokyo model. But here the point is, whether the credit of the whole model goes

to the Japanese government only? No. The people of Japan have also protected urban forests or street trees with a certain concern and responsibility. I have personally witnessed the passion, love and obsession of nature in the lives of common citizens of Japan. Infact that during my Japan tour, I was surprised to see that the government there has even given metal support to save and protect large tree branches. The people are also so aware that if you try to touch the trees or flowers in public places, they will tell you ‘please don’t touch it.’

Probably this is the reason why Japan even after suffering so much after the attack has risen up again to what it is today. But after this model, I would like to start another discussion. The debate is does any developing nation prioritize environmental protection in its development journey ? If we closely look at global statistics we will realize that most of the developing nations (developing countries) of the world keep only two things in mind while developing and that is industrialization and urbanisation.

Today the extent to which forests and other natural resources have been destroyed due to creation of industries or increasing the area of cities, people world over are realising the effects of climate change! The second discussion that comes to my mind is that as a global citizen, are we putting all efforts and giving utmost dedication and priority to the protection of  environment? Because if it is true then we are doing tree plantation and so is Japan. But the difference between us and Japan is that the people there are also possessive about the local trees in public places and we? We recently applauded a famous film that was ultimately showcasing a trick on how to steal red sandalwood or afforestation!.

Think of it. Are we really prepared for Climate Action? do we really have actually concern about nature and  environment?


By Viral Desai

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