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Forests really matter

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Nature Ecology & Evolution have published research that shows the enormous value of Earth’s remaining intact forests on several levels:

Climate Change
Infact forests absorb about 25% of our carbon emissions from all human sources – if we destroy them, there will be far more carbon dioxide in the air which a) makes the climate warmer and b) can hardly be good for any of us to breathe in

Water availability
Intact forests ensure that local and regional weather remains stable, as they generate more rain than cleared forests which reduces the risk of drought.

Intact forests have higher numbers of species who are dependent on forests and who have higher functional and genetic diversity

Indigenous cultures
Intact forests enable many indigenous groups to sustain their livelihoods and cultures

Human health
The loss of forest compromise the supply of species that millions of people rely on for medicinal purposes, and it drives the spread of many infectious diseases because humans come into closer contact with disease vectors.

Professor James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland says that not all forests are equal and forest conservation should be prioritised on their relative values. 

The researchers say we need to act while we still have intact forests left to save, before mankind destroys them all.

Global and national environmental strategies must retain the integrity of infact forest, and there must be more efforts to stabilise deforestation frontiers and stimulate restoration.

Policy interventions the researchers recommend include;

  • Creating new standard metrics of intactness to raise awareness of the importance of forest quality and help target action to those areas most intact
  • Embedding the intact forests concept in the UN Frameowrk Convention on Climate and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Reports to ensure the Paris Agreement’s commitment includes the protections of intact forests
  • Supporting local and global policies which limit road expansion, regulate hunting, extraction and development on the one hand; and to help secure indigenous communities’ land tenure rights and invest in restoration and protected areas on the other
  • Support efforts which restore and make degraded forests more productive, and conserve the intact systems which are at risk, rather than opening them up to activity

We need to start cherishing our forests and caring for them all.  They look after us; we need to look after them.


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