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Importance of Forests

Our forests provide us with a range of benefits, many of which can be tapped by engaging in sustainable practices whiles protecting the natural existence of the forest environment. Here are a few:

Biodiversity

Forests function as a home to animals

The rainforests alone are home to millions of species, many of them have not yet been discovered and studied. Its rich variety of life forms offer humanity great value in terms of medicine, research, knowledge and tourism. More than half of the world's estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rainforests. One-fifth of the world's fresh water is in the Amazon Basin. —Raintree

Home to indigenous people

Many indigenous people live sustainably in very remote places in forests. Their natural ways of life, natural medicine, culture, language and respect for nature offer humanity a lot to learn from. ‘Recent studies have shown that indigenous cultures are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. It has been estimated that 3,000 languages, (approximately half of the world’s languages) will disappear in the next century. Between 1900 and 1957 in Brazil alone, indigenous cultures declined from 230 to 87 by way of extinction’ —The rain forest foundation UK

Medicine

Many of the medicines used to treat diseases like heart diseases, malaria cancers and bronchitis have their ingredients coming from rainforests.  One such ingredient comes from Rosy Periwinkle, used to treat leukemia, only grows in the rainforest of Madagascar. Less than one percent of all tropical plant species have been screened for potentially useful medical properties [Repetto (1990)]

Climate control

Trees help with climate control by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to clean the air from greenhouse gases. It is a well-known fact that greenhouse gases contribute to warming of the atmosphere.  They also contribute massively to moisture in the atmosphere by evapotranspiration. Moisture in the atmosphere is extremely important for the natural functioning of the water cycle.

Soils and watersheds

Forest cover intercept the direct impact of rainwater. They reduce the amount of water that eventually gets to the underground of the trees. This reduces runoff and promotes infiltration, helping to enrich moisture levels for roots of plants. The moisture retained also helps with the breakdown of organic matter, thereby enriching the soils for the natural use of the trees.

The trees also protect the water bodies running through them from the direct impact of the sun, slowing down evaporation and keeping the streams flowing. This is vital for the lives of water bodies and prevents them for running dry.

Economic value

Sustainable forests provide us with wood, tourism, game, and knowledge. The sector provides a livelihood for people who work in all the various industries that are related to the forests and their resources. It is estimated that sustainable forests may earn landowners up to about 2,400USD per acre, year after year.

Additional information