Forests are important because of the wide range of products and services they provide. From filtering the water we drink to purifying the air we breathe, the importance of forest services are immeasurable. Many of the products we use every – food, timber, paper, medicines, detergents, and cosmetics – directly or indirectly involve forests. Being home to much of the world’s diverse array of plants and animals, forests are essential for many species. The the entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, when we take away the forest. It is not just the trees that go.
As forests around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate and its consequences are being felt at global scale, understanding the importance of forests is crucial. Here are ten reasons why forests are important:
#1. Forest is home to nearly half of all species on the earth
Ranging from insects and worms in the soil to keystone species like wolves and big cats, forests are teeming with 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, including millions of humans. With 300 million people residing in forest areas worldwide, an estimated 60 million native people’s survival entirely depends on native woodland.
#2. Forests are the largest storehouse of carbon in the world
A quarter of a trillion tons of carbon is constituted by above and below-ground biomass in tropical forests alone. Forests sequester carbon mainly in trees as well as soil. While trees store carbon for the building of wood, roots, and branches, as the trees continue to grow, the more they sequester. In addition, forests soil contains plant roots, and leaf litter including other organic materials, so they easily bind many carbon molecules and the organic material itself is stored carbon.
# 3. Forests contribution to the overall economy
The wealth embodied in the forest makes up a significant amount of the wealth of most nations, therefore is a valued aspect of economic development through steady employment, processing, and international trade of forest products. In addition to providing revenue, forests have the potential to provide a significant number of jobs in the renewable energy sector, commercial logging, and wildlife sector and can play a crucial role in the poverty reduction efforts.
# 4. Forests produce oxygen
Forests are nature’s factories for producing clean air, as it is proposed that a large tree provides a daily supply of oxygen for up to three people. Through photosynthesis, a tree provides us with the oxygen we need to respire, takes in carbon dioxide that we breathe out which gets converted into sugar after reacting with water and energy from the sun. Not just CO2, trees absorb a wide range of air pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide and save billions in total health care costs.
# 5. Forests serve as a buffer in natural disasters
The most effective and economic way to check natural disasters like soil erosions, and floods is to plant more trees. The decreased forests cover leads to increased runoff of rainwater, loosening of the soil rendering them unproductive. The forest covers act as a rain-holder and regulates the flow of water as a barrage and prevents devastating floods and erosions, as roots absorb much of the rainwater.
# 6. Helps in our battle against climate change
As an important carbon sink, forests is one of the most significant ways to limit the impacts of climate change. By removing an average of 2 billion metric tons of carbon, that fuels global warming each year from the atmosphere, trees provide a highly efficient carbon capture process and ameliorate the extremes of climate. They mitigate climate change by providing a shaded and humid microclimate. Forests are undoubtedly our best weapon to mitigate and solve the threats of global warming and climate change.
#7. Role in water purification
In addition to flood control by acting as barriers, forests prevent toxic chemicals from lawn fertilizers and pesticides from flowing to the down streams. Therefore healthy forests are very crucial for clean water and are often cheaper than relying on expensive filtration systems. Forest canopy as well as leaves and branches shelter soil during erosion whereas strong roots anchor soil against erosion which is a significant problem that affects both water quality and quantity.
#8. Provides good services
Forests provide a wide range of provisioning services. Although urbanized modern society is distanced from forest habitats, people continuously depend on forests to meet a lot of their demands like paper, timber, fuelwood, fodder, and medicine. Moreover, for rural communities, forests are their neighborhood grocery stores to forage for nuts, wild animals, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, etc. Beyond provisioning services, Forest provides recreation and is a source of inspiration. With the most beautiful national parks and reserves, the forest is an epic destination for adventures from hiking to mountain biking.
#9. Influences water cycle
The forest canopy influences water retention by regulating the rate at much moisture returns to the atmosphere therefore, is a critical cog in the global water cycle. Through transpiration trees releases water vapor into the atmosphere as trees with deeper roots can access and pump up larger soil water volumes from the ground. Moreover, groundwater recharge and water retention in the soil are improved through better soil water infiltration provided by forest root systems.
#10. Holds spiritual and cultural significance
In Hinduism, nature conservation and worship are important moral obligation. Each community has its traditions linked with forests as well as the species found in them. From birth ceremonies, marriage, to funeral, forests holds mystical values associated with them. The association of cultures with forests can be found in all corners of the world since humans evolved and civilized within and around the forests for thousands of years.