Forests have been covering the earth’s surface for millions of years. In the recent decades however, international agriculture and businesses often come in the way of a healthy, sustainable forest ecosystem. Worldwide there are many conflicts related to forests such as resources and habitats.
Wildfires have always been a concern and problem for human and animal lives, due to climate change some regions becoming more arid and hotter, have experienced an increase in severity and amount of wildfires in the past years. However, wildfires are not the only type of fire of a concern to especially tropical rain forests: Intentional fires to clear the areas of shrubs and trees to grow crops or hold cattle have an enormous impact as well. Economic reasons for agricultural use of the land thus have social and ecological consequences. As seen recently with the Amazonian forest fires, there are also many political issues related to subsidence and support of forest protection areas by international bodies.
But forest trees also play an important role in carbon dioxide capture, holding the greenhouse gas and only releasing it into the atmosphere through burning processes or into the soil by decomposing naturally. This way the tree stores carbon dioxide and entire forests significantly improve the climate. Another effect is a cooling effect through evapotranspiration, which is part of an important water cycle that keeps the soil moist and fertile by providing evapotranspiration that then rains down again. Those effects can also be labelled as ecosystem services that humans benefit from.
Wood is an equally interesting resource in the light of sustainability. While being re-grown and thus a “renewable resource”, it always depends on the growth rates and ecosystems in which it is grown. Thus there are very different types of wood that differ greatly in sustainable use. Through dendrochronology we can research ancient forests and climates in landscapes that might look very different today.
On top of that, urban forests improve the liveability of a city greatly by providing shade, green spaces, oxygen and humidity in its surroundings.
Forests have played a very important role in the development of human settlements, giving them the opportunity to thrive and build their future. How do you build yours?