Forests are game changers when it comes to tackling climate change. Without forests, we may not be able to fight the climate imbalances causing global warming.
Forests are amazing. They cover around one-third of the Earth’s surface and provide us with an endless number of benefits. Whether it be purifying the air we breathe or regulating the water we drink, forests are undeniably the biggest heroes in nature’s battle against climate change.
Better yet, a forest’s most useful tool is its ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for heating planet Earth. And without forests, we are unable to cleanse the atmosphere and remove countless toxic gases.
This article explores 10 vital benefits of forests and how they help to nurture mankind. Keep reading to find out why forests are so important to helping us fight climate change!
Forests are one of the largest storehouses of carbon dioxide released by human activity. Tropical forests alone have the ability to store a whopping 7.6 billion tons of CO2 per year, which is 1.5 times more carbon than what the United States emits annually.
With this kind of storing power, it’s pretty clear just how much we need our forests to help offset the carbon emissions caused by our own activities. Forests help greatly in combating global warming and are the perfect carbon storage tool to help us take climate action and keep the Earth cool
Not only do forests absorb CO2, but trees themselves, whether they be out in nature or dotted around cities, clean the air by absorbing air pollutants like; ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulphur dioxide (SO2).
They also shield us from inhaling Particulate Matter – particles made up of a mixture of chemicals and soot that clog up the air by acting as a physical barrier. So that icky black soot you find up your nose after travelling on the subway, or the hot heavy air that makes your throat itch in summer could all be improved with just a few more trees nearby.
It was even reported that by eliminating pollutants from the air, urban trees could prevent up to 850 deaths each year and save $6.8 billion in overall health care expenses in the United States alone.
The forest floor holds soil particles firmly in the ground and prevent soil erosion from taking place over a long period of time. Which is a particularly important part of agriculture and the general safekeeping of large rural areas.
Preventing soil erosion is important if we want to minimise the risk of losing high value crops, prevent reaping minimal crop yields, and stop extreme flooding. With more trees around, firmer ground particles can absorb large quantities of water and slow down on-land water flows which would accumulate and cause excess floods.
Even better, water that seeps into the ground through the roots of the trees reaches aquifers that can then recharge groundwater supplies which is essential for various purposes including drinking water, crop irrigation, and many industrial processes such as engineering, and construction.
Trees not only hold soil, but they also cleanse the ground through a process known as phytoremediation. During this process, trees absorb harmful pollutants including pesticides, sewage overflows, roadside spills, explosives, and even oil.
Constructed wetlands are a classic example of phytoremediation that are equally used to balance the forest ecosystem and maintain healthy forests. Wetlands protect shorelines from wave action that cause damage. They reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants, and improve overall water quality as a mere baseline of their functionality. They even provide habitats for animals and plants, many of which can be rare and exotic species.
In a scenario such as a workplace industrial site, trees make a fantastic case for practical labour that would otherwise need countless human workers. Phytoremediation primarily takes advantage of natural plant processes and requires less equipment and labour than a team of workers. Sites can be cleaned up without digging, uphauling soil, or pumping groundwater, which in turn saves countless energy.
Like us, trees serve an important purpose. And when they’re doing their job right, we can utilise them to help limit soil erosion, make a site more attractive, reduce noise pollution, and improve the surrounding air quality.
Nearly half of the Earth’s species live inside the forests, which includes nearly 80% of biodiversity on land.
Biodiversity is responsible for helping all life on Earth to thrive- including humans. A variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that interact with each other cannot function without a healthy and intact ecosystem. Each and every role plays a part in providing us with the air we breathe and the food we eat.
It’s because of this biodiversity that humans are able to take advantage of things that forests offer us like food, fibre, biomass, wood, and shelter. Therefore, it’s critical that we protect forests and limit causes that imbalance biodiversity such as deforestation and global warming.
More than 300 million people live in forests, including 60 million Indigenous groups that still rely heavily on nature and its resources. Indigenous people have been living under forest cover for thousands of years and they are by far the best protectors of forests we have access to today.
Deforestation, logging, and infrastructure being built upon forest landscapes are pushing indigenous groups out of their homes. With little funding and a lack of legal rights imposed by western authorities means Indigenous communities are struggling to protect their land and prevent encroachment.
When we protect forests, we also take action to protect the people within them. Taking action could save countless lives, give Indigenous peoples the rights to land ownership, and preserve numerous generations and ancestral teachings from the forest.
Over 1.6 billion people both directly and indirectly rely on forests. Forests provide us with food, water, shelter, fuel, and many other raw materials that are used in making everyday items like paper, furniture, cosmetics, detergents, and medicines.
According to the UN, up to a quarter (25%) of all therapeutic medications in developed countries are plant-based, and this figure jumps to as high as 80% in the developing world. That means without forests, we wave goodbye to our day-to-day luxury skin care routines and daily vitamins.
In the working world, forests are also the creators of green jobs. Around 10 million people are directly employed in forest management and conservation activities. What’s more? 1% of the global GDP arrives from forests-related businesses and 80% of the population in many developing countries depend upon the non-timber products from forests.
Forests also maintain our water cycle and help to regulate rainfall. Trees in forests absorb water from the soil. This water is then evaporated into the atmosphere through tree leaves to form clouds. These clouds eventually produce rainfall – which as we know is important for crop irrigation, providing suitable conditions for many ecosystems, and providing the human population with clean drinking water.
Trees in the Amazon rainforest in particular, create atmospheric conditions that enable frequent rainfall not only in the Amazon and its neighbouring regions, but possibly as far away as the Great Plains of North America.
A few strategically located trees can reduce background sound by 5 to 10 dB, or around 50% of what is perceived as noise by human hearing.
Forests help to tackle noise pollution by acting as a natural barrier to noise with their large stature and natural barrier effect. In addition, the noise-cancelling effect of forests comes from the rustling of leaves, chirping of birds, and flow of rivers and waterfalls. These sounds have all been proven to improve health, induce positive moods, and lower stress and aggravation.
Finally, besides environmental benefits, forests are undeniably and most obviously tremendously beautiful to look at. The world’s forests are the driver of tourism for many people. Making their mark as destination hot spots. Thanks to their vast and secluded wilderness, they offer a place where people can go hiking, camping, birdwatching, mountain biking, and many other enjoyable activities.
Because of the substantial economic value ecotourism creates, it encourages local communities to maintain and protect forests and wildlife within. In terms of numbers, ecotourism in Peru generated $720 million as revenue in 2017 just in visits to protected natural areas.
Likewise, European countries earn more than 75% of their revenue from forests through ecotourism- much more than from cutting down trees and selling timber.
It’s undeniable that forests benefit humans as much as they do the planet. We can conclude that forests are vital to all life on Earth and are a critical tool in beating the climate crisis. They purify the air we breathe, the water we drink, and prevent floods that destroy countless homes and communities.
But forests around the world are under threat. Despite the key role forests play in the world’s environmental and economic health, we continue to lose forests, along with the endangered animals that live in them. In order to take action, we need to protect our forests and prevent any further deterioration before it’s too late.
Take climate action with One Tribe today and start protecting endangered forests and wildlife habitats across the globe!
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