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At what rate are we destroying our forests ?
The numbers are frightening – literally millions of hectares are lost each year ; to get a better grasp of what this represents, this is equivalent to the surface of a large western city obliterated – each day. Then multiply that by 365 !
We are talking primarily about primary forests, this ecosystem which took thousands of years to form and which will remain irreplaceable for thousands of years.
Or, do we actually have thousands of years to correct our errors ?
No, not at all…. without even making a comparison of the lifetime of a human which would make a giant tree in the Amazon, several centuries old, smile – the ravages caused by deforestation are practically irreversable. Experts are sounding the alarm bell and have explained that if we do not immediately stop eradicating our primary forests, they will be completed gone before the middle of the 21st century.
Is it possible to use our forests without destroying them ?
From the beginning of time, humans have made use of forests, in particular for their wood, yet it was a responsible use that allowed for the natural regeneration of this resource, one which did not jeopardise their existence in any way. Our attitude before was based on a simple way of thought : « What I needed today, my children will need tomorrow ! »
The disappearance of our forests is one of the greatest threats facing future generations.
Is the survival of humankind threatened ?
How could the answer be anything but yes ? The global warming we are currently witnessing has the effect of increased dry periods, increased temperatures, dangerous, even extreme weather phenomena, desertification, etc. With respect to desertification, as we know, it is our forests which play the most critical role as regulators of the world’s temperature, and are our most effective carbon sinks - increasingly, gone !
Without forests, global warming will accelerate even more and the conditions for life on Earth will be turned upside down. How bad will things get ? There is no consensus with respect to this question, but experts
are all in agreement that ongoing climate changes will ultimately prove catastrophic .
Our primary forests also harbour a natural pharmacy, with their thousands of medicinal plants and resources that remain unknown to us. Indeed, we will be depriving ourselves of numerous medicines needed tomorrow if our forests disappear (See more on this subject in the episode and report on medicinal plants).
Are humans already suffering because of the disappearance of forests ?
With the equivalent of 30 soccer fields being destroyed every minute around the world (unimaginable but true), millions of human beings that once lived in or nearby a forest have already been affected by this scourge.
These people have had to leave their homes behind and give up ways of life dating back to their ancestors. They are a new type of refugee, environmental refugees the victims of a mindless destruction orchestrated by man. This terrible drama lived by millions of our fellow human beings must not remain unknown and must instead be brought to light in order to awaken a global consciousness of the importance of forests. It must spur a will to immediately stop the destruction !
For the cartoon on forests, click here
For quiz on forests, click here
For the game about forests, here
For the cartoon on medicinal plants, click here
For quiz on medicinal plants, click here
For the game on medicinal plants, here
© CyberDodo Productions Ltd.
It is common to call forests « the lungs of our planet ». As such, how can we possibly explain our terrifying destruction of them without any regard for future generations ?
First of all, what are forests ?
There are numerous definitions that vary according to climate and continent, but something that they all have in common is that they are communities of plants involving multiple species – trees, bushes, plants, etc, which together with various species of animals, form a unique ecosystem.
How much of the earth’s surface do they cover ?
Forests cover approximately one third of the earth’s total land area, or, at the beginning of the 21st cenury, between 4 to 6 billion hectares – a number that is constantly decreasing.
What is the difference between « primary forests » and « secondary forests » ?
The future of biodiversity is intrinsically linked to this question. Primary forests are those which Nature alone has created, without human intervention of any kind, such as the Amazon. They cover less than 10% of the world’s land area.
Secondary forests are those which humankind has planted or otherwise intervened in to such a degree that the ecosystem has been profoundly modified.
What is the purpose of forests ?
The answer is manifold, given forests’ numerous functions, in particular :
Reservoir of biodiversity
Our primary forests are the main reservoir of biodiversity on land, given that they are the home of between half and three fourths of all living species.
During these times of global warming and the terrible yet completely predictable consequences thereof, forests, along with peat bogs, represent one of the most important carbon dioxide sinks. As they grow, they absorb enormous quantities of CO2, a phenomenon that both the ground and the canopy of the forest, each made up of millions of organisms that, equally contribute to.
However, there is a phenomenon linked to global warming which appears to be able to decrease the capacity of tropical forests to capture CO2: the observed increase of dry spells which quite simply prevent them from exercising their role as carbon sinks ! Processes of global warming acclerate even more….
It should be noted that forests composed of slow growth species, such as those containing oak, are able to absorb more CO2 than rapid growth trees, which are more common to secondary forests.
Where does the oxygen we breathe come from ? Thanks to photosynthesis, it is forests that produce the majority of the precious oxygen that animal and human life needs to survive.