People depend on forests to live. They filter the water we drink and the air we breathe. Worldwide, 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods, including food, clothing, or shelter. Forests are home to nearly half of the world's species, including some of the most endangered birds and mammals, such as orangutans, gorillas, pandas, Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets.
The following article and infographic was shared by the R&B Timber Group from CGIAR. Although often ignored, forest genetic resources matter for everything from food, to the environment and adapting to climate change.
Here are 7 interesting facts about why forest and tree genetic diversity is important:
- It is not just about the forest but also the trees
- Forest loss and forest tree species - genetic erosion go hand in hand
- Trees as sources of food, fuel wood and livelihoods
- All species originated somewhere - Centres of diversity harbor valuable resources
- Genetic diversity makes trees resistant to climate change
- DNA can be used to crack down on illegal logging
- Sustainably increasing production through the use of genetic diversity of trees
Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of Earth, and are distributed across the globe. Forests account for 75% of the gross primary productivity of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. Forests at different latitudes form distinctly different ecozones: boreal forests near the poles tend to consist of evergreens, while tropical forests near the equator tend to be distinct from the temperate forests at mid-latitude. The amount of precipitation and the elevation of the forest also affects forest composition.
Human society and forests influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Forests provide ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions. Forests can also impose costs, affect people's health, and interfere with tourist enjoyment. Human activities, including harvesting forest resources, can negatively affect forest ecosystems.
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