Forest And Their Uses Essay

21st March is celebrated as the International Day of Forests. This is the day that we commemorate one of the most diverse and most important natural resource that we have: the vast woodlands that once covered the earth, and are now fast disappearing. Indeed, it is alarming at how fast the forest cover of the earth is diminishing.

It is alarming because the forest is possibly the single most important resource for us humans, and alarming also because it is a sign of our callousness and negligence that we are allowing these regions to disappear forever for some momentary gains. The faster we lose our forest cover, the faster we are hurtling toward extinction as a species. The forest is not just about the trees and the animals, although their place cannot be undermined; we, as a species, depend more in our daily lives on the forest than we think.

Non-human habitation

To begin with, the forest forms the biggest place for habitation for a great multitude of animal species. As we keep cutting down on our forests, these animals lose their home, and also their source of food and a place for procreation. Each one of these animals play an important role in the entire ecological system, and as they face extinction due to habitat loss and lack of food, we run the risk of seriously compromising the very ecosystem we live in. As humans, it would be impossible for us to break free of the ecological order of things, and hence we are also affected in some way or the other as a reaction of the threat these species face. For instance, bugs and worms help in keeping the soil fertile, and bees- the most important sources of some very expensive and very necessary products, honey and wax- thrive in the forest.

Maintains a livable atmosphere

The importance of the forest in maintaining a livable atmosphere cannot be undermined. It is a well known fact that trees keep the temperatures down. As more and more trees are being cut down, it is adding to the global warming by raising temperatures further. A greater number of cars and industries means that more carbon dioxide is being released into the world, and there are not enough trees to process all that and turn it into oxygen. Trees also help in holding the soil firmly together; reports of huge landslides are becoming commoner as deforestation loosens the soil.

Maintains economic balance

The forest is crucial to maintaining balance in the economy. A staggering number of industries are dependent on the forest, and they employ millions of people across the world. Besides, products received from the forest, either directly or indirectly, are exported and imported regularly, which adds to the revenue of the exporting nation. It is, indeed, one of the factors that contribute heavily to the economic growth of a country. For instance, the furniture and wooden products industry is completely dependent on the forest.

Human habitation

Forests are not just home to a wide variety of animals, birds, and insects. They are also home to a huge indigenous population, all of whom face extinction and habitat loss with the loss of the forests. Just like the animals that have known the forest as their home for thousands of years, these humans also find it incredibly difficult to adjust to a life outside of the forest, and even more difficult in an urban area that is increasingly taking the place of their natural habitat. The more we push these indigenous people out of their homes, the less ethnic diversity we have in the world. By threatening the indigenous population with extinction, the urban population keeps hovering on the brink of forever losing some very important and ancient cultures of the world.

Also read:Importance of wetlands

Stripping the earth of its forest cover poses an incredible amount of danger for us. We have to depend on the forest for many obvious things- like the climate we live in, the soil we tread on, the air we breathe, and the furniture and gas that we use to make our lives more comfortable. But there is more to it; we also use forest byproducts in other things that form an integral part of our lives, such as medicine and cosmetics. Yet, we continue to cut down trees to make way for more living quarters and industries for humans. This is a classic exemplification of the story of the golden goose; we are killing the very goose that lays golden eggs in a bid to get the most out of it at one go, without bothering about the future.

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Category: Environment

In honor of this seasonal focus on trees and forests, here's a list of 21 reasons why they're important:

1. They help us breathe.

Forests pump out oxygen we need to live and absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale (or emit). A single mature, leafy tree is estimated to produce a day's supply of oxygen for anywhere from two to 10 people. Phytoplankton are more prolific, providing half of Earth's oxygen, but forests are still a key source of quality air.

2. They're more than just trees.

Nearly half of all known species live in forests, including 80 percent of biodiversity on land. That variety is especially rich in tropical rain forests, from rare parrots to endangered apes, but forests teem with life around the planet: Bugs and worms work nutrients into soil, bees and birds spread pollen and seeds, and keystone species like wolves and big cats keep hungry herbivores in check.

3. People live there, too.

Some 300 million people live in forests worldwide, including an estimated 60 million indigenous people whose survival depends almost entirely on native woods. Many millions more live along or near forest fringes, but even just a scattering of urban trees can raise property values and lower crime.

The canopy towers over a coastal-plain forest in Italy's Nazionale del Circeo. (Photo: Nicola/Flickr)

4. They keep us cool.

By growing a canopy to hog sunlight, trees also create vital oases of shade on the ground. Urban trees help buildings stay cool, reducing the need for electric fans or air conditioners, while large forests can tackle daunting tasks like curbing a city's "heat island" effect or regulating regional temperatures.

5. They keep Earth cool.

Trees also have another way to beat the heat: absorb CO2 that fuels global warming. Plants always need some CO2 for photosynthesis, but Earth's air is now so thick with extra emissions that forests fight global warming just by breathing. CO2 is stored in wood, leaves and soil, often for centuries.

6. They make it rain.

Large forests can influence regional weather patterns and even create their own microclimates. The Amazon, for example, generates atmospheric conditions that not only promote regular rainfall there and in nearby farmland, but potentially as far away as the Great Plains of North America.

7. They fight flooding.

Tree roots are key allies in heavy rain, especially for low-lying areas like river plains. They help the ground absorb more of a flash flood, reducing soil loss and property damage by slowing the flow.

Erawan Falls flows through a rain forest in the Tenasserim Hills of western Thailand. (Photo: Shutterstock)

8. They pay it forward.

On top of flood control, soaking up surface runoff also protects ecosystems downstream. Modern stormwater increasingly carries toxic chemicals, from gasoline and lawn fertilizer to pesticides and pig manure, that accumulate through watersheds and eventually create low-oxygen "dead zones."

9. They refill aquifers.

Forests are like giant sponges, catching runoff rather than letting it roll across the surface, but they can't absorb all of it. Water that gets past their roots trickles down into aquifers, replenishing groundwater supplies that are important for drinking, sanitation and irrigation around the world.

10. They block wind.

Farming near a forest has lots of benefits, like bats and songbirds that eat insects or owls and foxes that eat rats. But groups of trees can also serve as a windbreak, providing a buffer for wind-sensitive crops. And beyond protecting those plants, less wind also makes it easier for bees to pollinate them.

11. They keep dirt in its place.

A forest's root network stabilizes huge amounts of soil, bracing the entire ecosystem's foundation against erosion by wind or water. Not only does deforestation disrupt all that, but the ensuing soil erosion can trigger new, life-threatening problems like landslides and dust storms.

An arboreal blanket covers Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania's Tioga State Forest. (Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr)

12. They clean up dirty soil.

In addition to holding soil in place, forests may also use phytoremediation to clean out certain pollutants. Trees can either sequester the toxins away or degrade them to be less dangerous. This is a helpful skill, letting trees absorb sewage overflows, roadside spills or contaminated runoff.

13. They clean up dirty air.

We herald houseplants for purifying the air, but don't forget forests. They can clean up air pollution on a much larger scale, and not just the aforementioned CO2. Trees catch and soak in a wide range of airborne pollutants, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

14. They muffle noise pollution.

Sound fades in forests, making trees a popular natural noise barrier. The muffling effect is largely due to rustling leaves — plus other woodland white noise, like bird songs — and just a few well-placed trees can cut background sound by 5 to 10 decibels, or about 50 percent as heard by human ears.

15. They feed us.

Not only do trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds and sap, but they also enable a cornucopia near the forest floor, from edible mushrooms, berries and beetles to larger game like deer, turkeys, rabbits and fish.

A red-eyed vireo, common in North America's eastern forests, finds a berry in Ontario. (Photo: Matt MacGillivray/Flickr)

16. They give us medicine.

Forests provide a wealth of natural medicines and increasingly inspire synthetic spin-offs. The asthma drug theophylline comes from cacao trees, for example, while a compound in eastern red cedar needles has been found to fight MRSA, a type of staph infection that resists many antibiotic drugs. About 70 percent of all known plants with cancer-fighting properties occur only in rain forests.

17. They help us make things.

Where would humans be without timber and resin? We've long used these renewable resources to make everything from paper and furniture to homes and clothing, but we also have a history of getting carried away, leading to overuse and deforestation. Thanks to the growth of tree farming and sustainable forestry, though, it's becoming easier to find responsibly sourced tree products.

18. They create jobs.

More than 1.6 billion people rely on forests to some extent for their livelihoods, according to the U.N., and 10 million are directly employed in forest management or conservation. Forests contribute about 1 percent of the global gross domestic product through timber production and non-timber products, the latter of which alone support up to 80 percent of the population in many developing countries.

19. They create majesty.

Natural beauty may be the most obvious and yet least tangible benefit a forest offers. The abstract blend of shade, greenery, activity and tranquility can yield concrete advantages for people, however, like convincing us to appreciate and preserve old-growth forests for future generations.

Romania's Danube Delta, home to 15,000 people, is the best-preserved river delta in Europe. (Photo: Getty Images)

20. They help us explore and relax.

Our innate attraction to forests, part of a phenomenon known as "biophilia," is still in the relatively early stages of scientific explanation. We know biophilia draws humans to water, woods and other natural scenery, though, and exposure to forests has been shown to boost creativity, suppress ADHD, speed up recovery, and encourage meditation and mindfulness. It may even help us live longer.

21. They're pillars of their communities.

Like the famous rug in "The Big Lebowski," forests really tie everything together — and we often don't appreciate them until they're gone. Beyond all their specific ecological perks (which can't even fit in a list this long), they've reigned for eons as Earth's most successful setting for life on land. Our species probably couldn't live without them, but it's up to us to make sure we never have to try. The more we enjoy and understand forests, the less likely we are to miss them for the trees.

If you still don't have forest fever, check out the animated video below, produced by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to raise awareness about International Day of Forests:

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