Forests are the lungs of the earth
Forests cover around 4 billion hectares or 30% of the Earth's land surface and are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity1.
Forests are essential for the environment and human health and happiness. They play a crucial role in fighting climate change by storing huge amounts of carbon: forests and forest soils store more than one trillion tonnes of it. During photosynthesis, forests absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen, and they serve as biological filters that purify the air. They are genetic repositories for the world’s living systems, including plants, animals and fungi. Forests support biodiversity by providing habitat for millions of species. They reduce erosion, retain moisture, purify water, provide cooling in response to climate change, and provide vital aesthetic beauty and recreation for mankind.
Issues facing forests
Climate change and human activities are placing stresses on these essential systems. Human encroachment and urban sprawl, clearing for farmland or housing, disturbance from non-sustainably practiced resource extraction and catastrophic fires and floods are all causing a loss of biodiversity, genetic erosion2 and the loss of indigenous cultures.
Solutions to protect forests
Support worldwide efforts including the Bonn Challenge3 and the United Nations Decade on Restoration4. Good forest management practices that include silviculture, prescribed burns, native seed collection, replanting and including targeted revegetation that aligns with key species requirements, are vital for preserving and enhancing forest habitat. An exciting emerging area is the incorporation of carbon sequestration through compensatory mitigation banking. Adhering to the principles of a circular economy uses fewer new resources and recycles those we already have. Carefully managed, sustainable population growth with appropriate education and community involvement, combined with well-conceived and sensitive development and infrastructure projects, can protect vital ecosystems.
HOW WE CAN ALL HELP
The Tree Foundation gives us this advice:
- Conserve trees and forests in your area
- Plant local native trees—the more the better!
- Support forest conservation organizations
- Learn about forests, both local and global
- Buy forest-friendly (or certified) products such as shade-grown coffee
- Demand better labelling of products so you know if they are certified and sustainable
- Advocate for climate change solutions
- Learn about climate change
- Visit forests often
- Teach our children about forests through books and outdoor exploration
Ramboll's work supporting forest ecosystems
Click below to read more about projects and news related to this ecosystem