10 Reasons Why Forests Matter

April 10, 2014

Forests are important to our ecological, economic and social wellbeing. They provide wood and non-wood products, recreational opportunities and other non-market goods and services such as water and clean air. The R&B Group has provided 10 reasons from Planet Change as to why forests matter.

  1. Absorbing and storing carbon - Trees absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into wood, where the carbon stays bound up for hundreds or even thousands of years, living forests are an important part of the earth's climate system.
  2. Homes 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.
  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.
  5. Habitat for mammals, birds, insects - Forests are the homes 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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  10. So we can put trail blazes on something - The establishment of protected areas and parks often allow for 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.