10 Benefits Of Reforestation
1. Absorbing and storing carbon
The heat is on. Global warming has sped up, yet debates continue about the best way to slow the increase of carbon dioxide that is trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon needs to be pulled out of the atmosphere and put into long-term storage elsewhere. This process is called carbon sequestration, and high-technology ways to accomplish it are being explored worldwide.
However we don't have to wait for high tech sequestration. We can increase carbon sequestration now by working with some experts. They're called trees, and they have almost 350 million years' experience in sequestering carbon. Trees, like other green plants, use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into sugar, cellulose and other carbon-containing carbohydrates that they use for food and growth. Trees are unique in their ability to lock up large amounts of carbon in their wood, and continue to add carbon as they grow. Although forests do release some CO2 from natural processes such as decay and respiration, a healthy forest typically stores carbon at a greater rate than it releases carbon.
The actual rate of carbon sequestration will vary with species, climate and site, but in general, younger and faster growing forests have higher annual sequestration rates. Considering that one half of the weight of dried wood is carbon, trees in a forest hold a lot of carbon. When the enormous amount of carbon stored in forest soils is added to the trees' carbon, it becomes obvious that forests are major carbon storage reservoirs.
2. Home to people
Three hundred million people around the world actively live in forests and depend on them directly as sources of food, medicine and livelihoods.
3. Source of jobs and livelihoods
More than 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests to some extent for their livelihood Some 60 million indigenous people are completely dependent on forests for all aspects of their survival. And about 10 million people are employed in forest management and conservation around the world.
4. Wood for furniture, lumber, firewood and other products
In the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, many local communities sustainably harvest mahogany and other wood, as well as chicle, which is used to make chewing gum. Panama hats are actually made from an understory palm from the coastal dry forests of Ecuador. In total, about 30 percent of the world’s forests are used for production of wood and non-wood products (such as food, resins, medicines, etc.).
5. Habitat for mammals, birds, insects
Forests are home to almost half of the world’s species, with some of the richest biodiversity found in tropical forests. Insects and worms help cycle nutrients through the soil. Many rare and endangered species, such as orangutans, gorillas and pandas, depend on dense patches of isolated forest.
6. Preventing flooding
During times of heavy rainfall, lowland forests such as those in floodplains help to absorb water and slow flood flows, preventing damage to soil, property and buildings. Lowland forests such as the blackwater swamps of the Southeast are also spectacularly beautiful habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
7. Conserving soil and water
Trees are an important part of the water cycle. By helping slow runoff and allowing water to filter into the soil, they can preserve groundwater supplies that are important both to people as drinking water and to fish and other aquatic life in nearby streams. Trees also help hold soil in place, reducing erosion by both water and wind. Deforestation in Inner Mongolia plays a role in dust storms that afflict Beijing and other East Asian cities. china has embarked on an ambitious reforestation effort in part to alleviate these problems.
8. Regulating regional climate
When trees are planted in cities, they can help to ease the “heat island” effect and provide cooling shade for homes and buildings, reducing energy usage for air conditioning in the summer. When planted strategically, they can provide effective wind barriers. Large forests also play a role in weather and rainfall patterns and micro-climates. For example, The Amazon Rain Forest creates conditions that result in regular precipitation for lands to the south that are productive agricultural areas and are thought to even enhance rainfall in the Great Plains of the United States
9. Natural beauty
Trees and forests are sources of human inspiration and enjoyment – even from afar. Trees are a symbol of life, and in our modern times, of a movement to sustain the environment that all people depend upon. Polling by The Nature Conservancy shows that more than 90 percent of Americans report that trees give them a feeling of peace and tranquility.
10. So we can put trail blazes on something
The establishment of protected areas and parks often allow for the development of trails for hiking, snow sports, and bird-watching, providing people who live outside of forests with a refuge for recreation, tourism, and educational activities. Walking in a forest can be a source of spiritual renewal for many (stillness was broken by the whispering of pines, the call of an owl or the rustling of a small animal through brush and dried leaves).
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