Why trees are so important to us

Why trees are so important to us

11 Feb 2019

Majestic and steadfast, trees have always had a special place in our hearts.

Few things are as peaceful as a stroll in a dense forest on an early summer morning. We take cover under trees when it rains, and who of us haven't hide behind a tree to exchange our first kiss?

Trees and the forests they make up are also vital for our ecosystem. They cover almost a third of the Earth’s land mass, and are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of our planet. Forests make up an integral part of our shared ecosystem and provide enormous benefits to nature.

Maybe most importantly, trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass and serve as a natural reservoir for excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As such, our forests are vital in the effort to combat global warming. They also help purify our water, and help mitigate natural hazards such as floods.

Even still, we humans are cutting down our forests at an ever faster rate.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 7.3 million hectares of forest are lost to deforestation each year. That’s one and a half hectare of forest disappearing from the earth, every single second.

According to some estimates, deforestation is the cause behind around 10% of the total global release of heat-trapping climate pollution. That’s the same as the annual pollution from 600 million cars, Lael Goodman stating this is an analyst with the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Some 1.6 billion humans depend on forests, and the results from deforestation are devastating. Not only are we actively speeding up the pace of global warming, but we’re also destroying a vital part of the earth’s biological diversity, with deforestation causing an estimated 28,000 species to become extinct by the next quarter of the century.

What’s more, deforestation is disrupting our water cycles, leading to increased drought and ever more intense forest fires.

One of the largest contributors of deforestation is the global paper and pulp industry, which also is one of the most energy-intensive industries on earth. And contrary to popular belief, the arrival of the internet doesn't mean that we have stopped consuming paper. In fact, it’s estimated that pulp and paper consumption will increase by more than 100 per cent by 2060.

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