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Africa, Americas, Prosperity, Planet, Climate Change

Five important benefits that forests bring us

Responsible Business | Mar 21, 2019

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Forests cover a third of all land on Earth, providing vital organic infrastructure for some of the planet’s densest, most diverse collections of life. They aid countless species as well as 1.6 billion human livelihoods. We count on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. Yet, despite our dependence on forests, we are still allowing them to disappear. Deforestation is taking its toll on the health of our forests and comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. Forests are essential for life on earth. It’s time to wake up.

Below you will find 5 important benefits that forests give us:

1. Conservation of habitats and ecosystems

Photo credit: Unsplash

Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.

That diversity of wildlife is especially rich in tropical rain forests, from rare parrots to endangered apes, but forests overflow with life around the planet. Soil is given nutrients from bugs and worms; pollen and seeds are dispersed by bees and birds, and hungry herbivores are kept in check by wolves and big cats. Today this way of life is being threatened by rapid deforestation, forest fragmentation and degradation, hunting and the arrival of invasive species from other habitats. No financial value can be placed directly on the almost infinite variety of living species in the forests.

2. Ensure economical benefits

Photo credit: Unsplash

More than 1.6 billion people rely on forests to some extent for their livelihoods and 10 million are directly employed in forest management or conservation.

Forests provide a wide array of economic and social benefits for instance through employment, value generated from the processing and trade of forest products, and investments in the forest sector. Timber, pulpwood, firewood, fodder, meat, cash crops, fish and medicinal plants from the forest provide livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

3. Provide food & nourishment

Photo credit: Pexels

Some 300 million people live in forests worldwide, including an estimated 60 million indigenous people whose survival depends almost entirely on native woods.

Trees provide us with nuts, berries, mushrooms, fruit, sap and seeds. Forests also support the lives of so many animals that humans consume, such as rabbits, squirrel, deer, elk, birds and fish. Rising temperatures, water scarcity and growing pressures on already-depleted natural resources could further weaken global food security in the near future but the potential exists to maximize existing resources by reversing land and environmental degradation.

4. Cools our climate

Photo credit: Unsplash

After oceans, forests are the world’s largest storehouses of carbon.

When it comes to fighting global warming, trees have emerged as one of the most popular weapons. By destroying forests, we not only emit carbon dioxide but also lose the role forests play, through photosynthesis, in taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Reforestation and improving forest management together have large potential to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

5. Purifies the air

Photo credit: Unsplash

We are losing 12 million hectares of forest a year, much of it tropical rainforest with its unique and rich biodiversity.

Forests play an crucial role in the purification of the atmospheric air. Trees catch and soak in a wide range of airborne pollutants, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. They cool and purify the air around them and the entire planet, as well as creating the rainfall essential for growing food in their regions and beyond.

The 6th Responsible Business Forum on Food & Agriculture will convene in Bangkok, Thailand on 26 –27 March 2019 featuring over 400 food, agriculture and nutrition decision- makers from companies, governments, investors, NGOs and farmers, to discuss innovation in value chains for food and nutrition security.

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