Actor, producer, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador & UN Secretary-General’s Advocate for SDGs, Dia Mirza has frequently tweeted, blogged and talked about environmental degradation. She has repeatedly tried to bring attention to the fact that climate change is a clear and present reality as is evident from the frequent natural disasters unfolding around the world ranging from flash floods, raging fires, snowstorms and extreme weather changes.
Closer home, Uttarakhand is currently battling 40 active forest fires with brave workers trying to curtail their spread. The fire has already impacted forests across the Garhwal and Kumaon regions and is said to be the worst since 2016.
A couple of days ago, Dia Mirza has tweeted with the hope that the region would receive adequate help. Pained by the devastation, Dia took the micro-blogging site and wrote, “Since January this year, there have been 983 incidents of forest fire in the state affecting 1,292 hectares of land. #Uttarakhand battles 40 active forest fires, IAF sends help. Hope the state receives adequate help.”
“Since January this year, there have been 983 incidents of forest fire in the state affecting 1,292 hectares of land.”#Uttarakhand battles 40 active forest fires, IAF sends help.
Hope the state receives adequate help 🙏🏻 https://t.co/TBxzzgb1Oa
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) April 5, 2021
Now Dia Mirza adds, “I once quoted Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forestry engineer in a blog, the gist of which was that in the end we will conserve only what we love. Do we love our forests enough to protect them is a question that niggles at me every time such devastation takes place in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand is the birthplace of the Ganga and its forests feed many important river systems that are the life source of millions.”
She continued, “This is a state with 71% forest cover, over 743 bird species (this represents about 60% of India’s avian biodiversity), 102 mammals, 72 species of reptiles and 439 species of butterflies. This is also the home of an estimated 340 wild tigers in two nature parks, Rajaji National Park and Corbett. So, this state literally cradles our future. And to see it go up in flames like this repeatedly is very painful because I have been to these forests and have absorbed their serenity and majesty.”
Dia Mirza also reminds all that every single fire poses a massive risk to flora and fauna, to firefighters and forest rangers one of whom told her of the role that the timber mafia often plays in causing such tragedies. She adds, “There is also neglect and a lack of awareness that precipitates the intensity of such a crisis. Our natural resource management needs to be better. As every person I spoke to in Uttarakhand once told me, we need to be more aware of the reasons that cause deforestation, pollution of the rivers, illegal mining and soil erosion. We have to understand how interdependent the human existence and mother nature are. Rivers will dry up if the forests that feed them are not protected. It will take the active participation of public and private partnership to secure our natural resources.”
Dia Mirza has been routinely talking about environmental issues that don’t get mainstreamed and is also producing a series of short films that will expand the significance of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) with compelling narratives. These films aim to highlight the importance of interlinked SDG goals which have been designed to achieve a more sustainable future and a healthier planet for all.