Don't cut my oak trees: A film on afforestation in Uttarakhand by the Himalaya Seva Sangh

"Don't cut my oak trees, they give me water". "We get cool air from them, we get cool water". "Don't cut my oak trees, they give me water". So goes the plaintive title song of this short movie. Produced by the Himalaya Seva Sangh, the film on afforestation relies heavily on interviews with Dr.Shekhar Pathak of PAHAR and self-help group members from Mukteshwar, Sunadi, and Indwal.

Dr.Pathak explains the importance of the Himalayan watersheds to water security in the Gangetic plain. He refers to the popular saying that the 'Himalayas are the water towers of the 21st century' and cautions that this does not only refer to glaciers, but to forests. He also explains how forests are the core of all life in the Himalayas- the agriculture, livelihoods, and culture of the mountain peoples all depend on forests. However, over extraction is leading to a depletion in these forests.

Afforestation is an important tool against this decline in forests, with all the attendant problems such as soil runoff, decline in agriculture, and decline in spring discharge,

The self-help groups filmed and interviewed during an afforestation drive explain the benefits of the afforestation they are doing, and also the importance of the trees they are planting. This discussion revolves to a large extent on the importance of broad leaved trees, especially oak, to the forests.

As Dr.Pathak points out, the mountains demand a decentralized approach. The afforestation programs shown in this film provide excellent evidence of the accuracy this surmise.

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