Forests are more than simply picturesque retreats in which to enjoy a Sunday hike or picnic – in fact, against the backdrop of global climate change, every one of us is dependent on them. Beyond providing the wood we use for paper and furniture they regulate our water cycle, prevent soil erosion, protect watersheds, provide a habitat for wildlife and forest communities, sustain biodiversity, supply food and shelter, provide the oxygen we breathe and play a vital role in regulating the earth’s climate.
With high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide affecting and disrupting the earth’s climate, it is here that the need for effective forest conservation becomes so apparent. Trees are a crucial component in the fight against global climate change, designed as they are to regulate carbon dioxide levels by absorbing the gas, storing the carbon and releasing oxygen. When trees are cut down, this stored forest carbon is released into the atmosphere, intensifying the levels of carbon dioxide and, consequently, the greenhouse effect. Deforestation currently accounts for approximately 15-20% of the world’s carbon emissions – so it follows that if we can stop deforestation, we can help slow the rate of global climate change accordingly.