Do you know what trees and forests do for us, and why we must take action to protect them? Here are 10 good reasons to preserve forests – and grow more trees.
1. CLEAN our air. Trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and give us oxygen, cleaning our air. Trees use carbon dioxide to build their trunks, branches, roots, and leaves, and are natural carbon absorbers. One mature tree can absorb up to 48 lbs carbon per year! You could say forests are the lungs of the Earth.
2. SUPPLY our needs for wood. And not just for construction, paper, furniture, etc. As the world’s population grows, so too the hunger for energy. Currently wood accounts for approximately 45% of the world’s renewable energy supply.
3. PROVIDE medicines for our health. Trees are nature’s great healers. Forests have provided medicine to indigenous and traditional cultures for centuries. And around 25% of pharmaceutical medicines used today are derived from them.
4. GIVE us food. From cacao pods to apples, avocados, guava, bananas, coconuts, mushrooms, chestnuts, and more, forests provide delicious, nutritious food grown right in nature. These traditionally have been used to supplement staple diets, providing vitamins, minerals, and proteins that people may not be able to get elsewhere. Throughout history, they have helped communities survive food shortages during floods, droughts, famines, conflicts, and other emergencies.
5. HOME to plants, animals & people. 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, including many endangered species, lives in forests, and 50% live in tropical rainforests. Over 300 million people also live directly in the world’s forests. Billions more depend on them for the ecosystem services they provide, like pure drinking water, clean air, and so much more.
6. NATURAL air-conditioning. Urban trees reduce the dangerous urban heat island effect, lowering temperatures by as much as 8°C. They help to regulate temperatures year round. Well-placed trees can reduce air-conditioning costs by 30% and heating costs by up to 50%.
7. PREVENT global warming. Forests create a healthy environment by trapping carbon to prevent global warming. They stabilise the climate, control atmospheric temperatures, protect watershed areas, regulate the water cycle, and enrich the soil.
8. PROTECT against extreme weather. As climate change progresses and intensifies across the globe, once rare extreme weather events like floods, landslides, cyclones, droughts and forest fires become commonplace. With roots that dig deep into the soil and hold everything together, fire resistant bark that slows the spread of wildfires, leaves that gradually release water vapour, powerful root systems that buffer coastal communities against cyclones, and so much more, healthy forests are our best defence against natural disasters.
9. IMPROVE mental health. Studies show that when we spend even a short time in nature, we can experience increased vigour and decreased depression, anxiety, fatigue, and mental fog. If you live near evergreen forests, you benefit from the high concentrations of phytoncides (airborne essential oils) that they release. These “showers” are part of the tree’s own medicine and provide powerful stress relief and a natural immunity boost that can last for weeks. Simply put: forests help us stay happy, relaxed, and well.
10. MAKE life better. Where forests grow undisturbed, life flourishes and the air is filled with sounds of life, and where they’ve disappeared, everything from the tiniest bee to the fiercest wolf is affected. We evolved with trees and have benefited from their food, medicine, shade, and shelter from the start. And from towering evergreens to birches swaying in the breeze, from intricate roots gripping deep into the soil to gnarled branches carving out a place in the sky, trees make our world a more beautiful, resilient, and safer place.
[The above facts are from ‘9 Reasons to Celebrate International Day of Forests’ (One Tree Planted).]…/celebrate-international…
Do You Know
> FORESTS SHIELD US AGAINST FUTURE PANDEMICS. The 2021 International Day of Forests which falls today (21 March) has a most apt theme: ‘Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being’. According to the United Nations, “At present, 60% of all infectious diseases and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. These diseases originate from the transfer of pathogens from animals to humans, and they usually occur when natural landscapes, such are forests, are being cleared.”
> WE SHOULD PLANT MORE TREES. According to official 2017 US data, the average American emits around 16.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels each year. To offset that, they should plant around 8-10 trees per year.
Let all of the above be our call to action on this world celebrated Day of Forests. Help the environment – and help yourself – by protecting forests and planting more trees.