Why Forests Matter
Forests make up a third of the earth’s land area; are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and over 1 billion people (including 60 million Indigenous peoples). They are the source of 75% of the world’s freshwater and play a vital role in the carbon cycle and climate regulation, They protect biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services that help sustain life – much of which we cannot live without, like providing us with clean air and clean water! Acting as lungs for the earth – providing us with oxygen and absorbing nearly one third of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
Forests provide important ecosystems services
Forest ecosystems provide many of the basic services that make life possible, including:
Provisioning services: oxygen, water, food, natural medicine
Regulating services: Climate regulation, Carbon sequestration and storage, flood and erosion control, pollination, filtration, decomposition, water purification
Supporting services: biodiversity conservation, soil conservation, habitat nutrient cycling, water cycle, photosynthesis
These processes work together, allowing the Earth to sustain basic life forms.
Each tree has a vital role to play; so does every plant, animal and other organisms (even those that we can’t see) in the forests. Together, as an ecosystem, the biodiversity that forests provide create a balanced setting that enable lives to survive and thrive.
Forests also serve as sites of aesthetic, recreational and spiritual value in many cultural and societal contexts as well as offering general well-being benefits.
Forests in our daily lives
Beyond the ecosystems services they provide, forests contribute significantly to our daily lives by providing fuel, fibre, timber, and other forest products for subsistence and income generation, and supporting socio-economic development.
Much of the renewable raw materials for many of the products we use - from your wooden bed-frame and other wood-furniture, to the timber or bamboo flooring, toilet rolls and tissue paper, soles of your work-out shoes, paper you write on, books and magazines you read, food packaging, clothes you wear, musical instruments you play, your children’s favourite toys, tyres of your car (and 100% of aeroplane tyres), yoga mats, dive suits, gloves, nuts and berries, wine corks, your office building, shade on a hot, humid day, and much more - all come from the forests!
Simply put – our lives depend on the existence of forests and healthy ecosystems. Our nation’s rich biodiversity and valuable ecosystem services provide vital support for human well-being and sustainable development.
Forests under threat
And yet, there is not enough being done to protect these life-giving forests that we continue to lose at alarming rates - to human activities (agriculture, unsustainable logging, infrastructure development and extractive activities), forest fires and climate change.
Alongside oceans, forests are the key ecosystem that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and carbon is stored in both trees and forest soils. When forests are degraded, cleared, and mismanaged, they turn from one of the most powerful climate solutions into a significant source of carbon emission, exacerbating the already accelerating rate of climate change, in addition to destroying vital ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as negatively affecting the well-being and livelihoods of communities, and society in general. Damaging forests also increases the risk of zoonotic diseases and pandemics.
Deforestation and forest degradation increase greenhouse gas emissions, disrupt water cycles, increase soil erosion and disrupt livelihoods.
What Can and Must We Do?
"Promote sustainable forest management and deforestation-free value chains. Protection and sustainable management of forests is a crucial element in any solution to the world’s climate crisis. Without increased efforts to protect forests, it will not be possible to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C.
FSC certification of forests, including certification by Indigenous Peoples of their territories, can be an important part of the solution going forward."
~ Kim Carstensen, Director General, FSC International