If you've ever taken a walk in a forest, you know how rewarding this experience can be. Imagine that you are in a forest right now. Can you hear the wind blowing through the leaves and birdsong? Do you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself?
Sadly, the world's forests face many threats such as deforestation and man-made climate change. Why is forest conservation so important?
10 reasons why forests are important
Forests create oxygen
Trees are nature's recycling machines. They take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. On average, two mature trees each year produce enough oxygen for a family of four.
If we do not protect our forests, we are endangering our own lives and the lives of anything that needs oxygen to survive.
Forests filter the air and reduce pollution
Trees not only create oxygen from carbon dioxide, they are also natural filters. They remove air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
Trees absorb all kinds of gases and particles, filtering them out of the air. Forest conservation can play an important role in reducing air pollution around the world.
Forests provide food security
Besides the nuts, berries, fruits, mushrooms and seeds that humans consume, the forest is home to a wide variety of animals that we also depend on for our food.
Without the forest, these animals would die, leaving us with very limited possibilities.
Forests help reduce climate change
Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Trees reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Therefore, forests cool the environment around them. In cities where it is usually warmer, green spaces can help reduce the heat.
If natural systems like forests were protected and restored, they could help the world move closer to its climate change mitigation goals by 2030.
On the other hand, the destruction of forests represents 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Forests are an important part of the water cycle
With their roots, trees draw water from the earth and release it into the atmosphere. Particularly large forests create their own climate and can trigger rains. This is especially important in areas vulnerable to drought.
Forest watersheds also provide clean drinking water, acting as a natural system for collecting, filtering and storing water.
Forests protect crops from the wind
The wind is a powerful force. Particularly strong winds can destroy crops, while the constant wind causes plants to lose more water through evaporation.
In some areas, dust and blown debris can also harm plants. Trees can block these dangerous winds and protect valuable crops.
Forests prevent soil erosion
Soil erosion has dangerous consequences. It causes the loss of fertile land, leads to increased pollution of streams and rivers and harms the animal population.
Floods, dust storms and landslides are also common in areas where soil erosion is severe.
Trees reduce soil erosion by anchoring the soil with their roots. Leaves and branches that fall from trees also help prevent the rains from washing away the soil.
Forests provide medicine
Throughout history, people have known that forests have healing powers. There are several types of trees known for their medicinal properties, such as the moringa tree. Extracts have shown antibiotic and antibacterial properties.
Compounds in the original form of aspirin come from a tree, while two chemotherapy drugs are based on chemicals extracted from Pacific yew.
There are countless other examples of trees that create or inspire drug development.
Forests support biodiversity
Biodiversity is very important for the health of our planet. When species are threatened and become extinct, it disrupts the ecosystem.
This sets off a chain reaction that makes life much more difficult for all living things, including humans. Forests provide the perfect environment for a wide variety of creatures.
Humans depend on forests
Over 1.5 billion people depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. These resources provide food, fuel, medicine, shelter, and more.
Forests are also essential as a back-up plan when harvests fail. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 300 million people live in forests. If these forests were to disappear, it would cause poverty to skyrocket and create millions of refugees.