When we think about trees, the first thing that comes to our mind is that trees are lungs of our planet. That is a non disputable fact, but trees are so much more. To comprehend fully the benefits of afforestation and reforestation, one must first entirely understand the extent to which the deforestation is harming the global population, Earth’s soils and biodiversity, while pushing the Global Climate Change into the irreversible direction of Global Warming.
The Earths land mass has a forest cover that is approximately 30% of mainland. On this 30% land covered by forest, deforestation that occurs annually by United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) is around 13 million hectares per year, which is nearly the size of Greece. We have already lost 3% of Earths forest cover due to deforestation. Even though small percentage, when seen in kilometers square as 1 350 000 km², which is like the size of Italy and Egypt put together, its significance rises instantly and knowing that the old-growth natural forest does not only store carbon dioxide in its biomass, dead wood, litter but in its soil as well, the importance of its preservation elevates instantly. Knowing all this, it could be presumed that the relisted carbon dioxide from deforestation is great, and it is observed that the total amount of deforestation throughout the world contributes to 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which is more than total EU greenhouse gas emissions.
As we can see from the map made by UN FAO the existing forests, although almost one third of Earth’s landmass, the forests are unevenly spread and insufficient for the rate at which the CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. According to a study from Yale twelve thousand years ago we had twice as many trees on Earth.
Deforestation is defined by the European Commission as follows: “Deforestation refers to the destruction and conversion of forest land to other land uses usually considered more profitable. Forest degradation is used to mean the destruction of specific aspects of forests such as a decrease in tree cover, changes in their structure or a reduction in the number of species that can be found there.”.
The negative impacts of deforestation can be seen in environment, through climate change, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, soil degradation, landslides and increased likelihood of natural hazards such as storms, floods, and extreme fluctuations in weather conditions in general. The greatest amount of deforestation has happened mainly in tropical and subtropical forests, 96% of the recent global deforestation, where more than 70% of the world’s species are found. Its negative effects can be observed in society as it threatens the lives and livelihoods as well as culture of people that rely on forest and non-timber forest products and can therefore be felt in economic terms too.
Due to wide variety of factors, most predominantly human deforestation, together with global climate change as a consequence of aforementioned , forests need human help to re-establish themselves. These efforts are widely considered either reforestation or afforestation projects, while strengthening the already existing old forest population by planting new seedlings is called foresting .
It is said that “the best time for planting a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today“.
More on this subjects coming soon 🙂