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Creation of urban forests to combat rising pollution in J&K

Srinagar Sep 30: The Jammu and Kashmir administration is taking proactive steps to address rising pollution levels and the effects of climate change by initiating the creation of urban forests near cities across the Union Territory. The move comes in response to erratic weather patterns and environmental challenges in the region.

In recent years, Kashmir has experienced unusual weather events attributed to global warming. These include untimely snowfall in November 2019, freezing temperatures during the winters of 2020 and 2021, a dry winter in 2022, and rising temperatures in March and April. These changes have had significant impacts, such as water shortages and early glacier melting.

To combat these challenges, the government plans to create green spaces near urban areas. This initiative aims to improve the environment by reducing pollution, mitigating noise, and providing cleaner air to residents.

“It will help to improve the environment of cities and towns by pollution mitigation, noise reduction and provide cleaner air,” a senior official of the Forest Department, said.

Currently, forests in Kashmir are situated about 20 kilometres away from cities and towns.

Kashmir, with its abundant natural resources and lush green forests, offers an ideal opportunity to increase forest cover and mitigate pollution levels in the Union Territory. This move reflects the government’s commitment to addressing environmental concerns and enhancing the quality of life for its residents.

Experts say trees absorb harmful pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides while releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. As a result, the air quality in the city began to improve.

 “Trees are excellent at capturing and storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. The urban forest became a natural carbon sink, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Adil Nabi, a research scholar at SKUAST-Kashmir, said.

He said the urban forest provides shade and reduced surface temperatures, making the city more comfortable for residents and decreasing the need for energy-intensive air conditioning. “The forest attracted a diverse range of wildlife and insects, creating a mini-ecosystem within the city. This not only enhanced biodiversity but also educated residents about the importance of nature conservation,” he added.

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