influence of forests on improving the quality of air, water and soil. (5 marks)

Forests influence the quality of our air, soil, and water resources in various ways. Some of them are: 

(i) Forests balance the percentages of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. The increasing amount of carbon dioxide caused by human activities is balanced by a larger intake of carbon dioxide by plants during the process of photosynthesis. Simultaneously, a large amount of oxygen is released. 

(ii) Forests prevent soil erosion. Roots of plants bind the soil tightly in a way that the surface of the soil cannot be eroded away by wind, water, etc. 

(iii) Forests help in the replenishment of water resources. During the process of transpiration, a huge amount of water vapour goes into the air and condenses to form clouds. These clouds cause rainfall that recharge water bodies.

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 Air pollution has been a serious problem for the forests of the Northeast (especially those at high altitudes), which are downwind of the industrial heartland. The chief agent of environmental damage is acid deposition, or acid rain as it is commonly known. This phenomenon occurs when emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form various acidic compounds. These compounds then fall to the earth in either dry form (such as gas and particles) or wet form (such as rain, snow, and fog). Thus, polluted air can damage trees directly in the dry form or indirectly through its affects on the chemistry of water and soils and by making trees more vulnerable to other biological and environmental stressors. More specifically, acid rain weaken trees by damaging their leaves, limiting the nutrients available to them, or exposing them to toxic substances slowly released from the soil. Acid rain that flows into streams, lakes, and marshes also has serious ecological effects. In watersheds where soils do not have a buffering capacity, acid rain releases aluminum, which is highly toxic to many species of aquatic organisms, from soils into lakes and streams. NRS scientists are study the problems of pollution at many levels, from cellular biochemistry to landscape-level ecology. 


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