It’s pretty clear we have not been using our natural forest resources wisely. Over half the world’s forest are already gone and if we continue – business as usual – and do nothing about this, then forest loss is predicted to reach an incredible 232 million hectares. Here are five reason why we should get planting.
1. Forests are the Earth’s lungs
Forests take in carbon dioxide and ‘exhale’ oxygen. This may be a complex biological process, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it is rather important for us oxygen-breathing beings. Saving forest means saving clean breathable air. Equally when they burn we get ‘dirty’ air in the form of haze pollution.
2. Forests ‘inhale’ carbon dioxide
Forests and other plants soak up carbon dioxide, a major driver of climate change and store it away as carbon. Tropical forests alone hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon – 7 times the amount emitted each year by human activities. The reverse is also true. Deforestation releases more carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere than our entire global transport system – all the planes, trains and cars put together.
3. The missing link in climate action
Right now, despite the commitments from nations as part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change we are still headed for 3°C warming and scientists tell us that only an upper limit of1.5 °C will save us from the worst effects of climate change – sea level rises, coral bleaching, droughts, heatwaves. The Paris Agreement recognises that forest can play a huge part in filling that emissions gap because properly protected and managed forests efficiently capture greenhouse gases like CO2.
4. Home for wildlife
A square kilometre of forest can be home to more than a 1000 species and is crucial for the conservation of wildlife, like the orangutan and tiger. In Sumatra 55% of the forest has already been cleared, mostly to make way for agricultural plantation to grow things we consume. If the Sumatran tiger and other critically endangered species are to side-step extinction we need to replant forest to provide them with a home.
Find out how you can start growing your own forest in Sumatra here
5. Forests give us free services
300 million people worldwide live in forest – 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests play a role in all our lives, providing us with many of the essentials we use everyday – tissue, paper, furniture. Plus there are the free ecosystem services like protecting our watersheds, and enriching soil. And let’s not forget the enjoyment forests give to those of us lucky enough to live near one – a value can’t be placed on the experience of spending time inside a beautiful, shady forest.