Friday, 21 March 2014

Forests for the future

With UN International Day of Forests (21 March) trying to raise awareness of the importance of forests, here are my reasons for wanting to see forests protected and for more forests of the right sort in the right places to be established (or re-established).

Meeting Needs: Sustainable use value is enormous (and ongoing!); Huge numbers of non-timber forest products can be available forever, if sustainably harvested; Sustainable forestry provides a very valuable resource forever; Eco-tourism provides jobs and income; Forests help avoid the costs and extremes of climate change; A properly functioning and stable water cycle is vital to agriculture (see details of 22 March World Water Day).

Beauty: The wonder of forest systems, non-human animals, plants, people; Deep feelings of connectedness and joy that forests can bring; Delighting the senses and pleasing the mind (see the details of 20 March International Day of Happiness).

Morality: Whether we think of morality in terms of rights, responsibilities, human character, duties, the common good, or consequences...the appropriate action is forest protection; Raising issues such as future generations, global citizenship, local peoples, traditions, the right to existence for species and systems, ability to meet needs, ability to maintain functioning life systems...

Natural Cycles: Take just two, the carbon cycle and the water cycle, forests play a huge role in both; They take carbon from the air and store it away; Burning or logging forests  to farm beef, soya or fuel crops is disastrous; Forests moderate and stabilise the water cycle, intercepting rain, binding soil, temporarily storing and gradually releasing water (see World Water Day).

Learning: We have huge amounts to learn about and from forest systems; Many, many species are yet to be discovered could disappear if we don’t protect areas; Forests help us learn about ourselves and our history; Potential to inspire designs and technologies; Learning from and with biochemicals and genes

Health and Wellbeing: Forests shade us, shelter us from rain; They take harmful pollutants from the air; They help us relax and provide recreational opportunities; They provide healthy food; They are sources of cures, treatments... (See the details of International Day of Happiness).

Biodiversity: A massive store of biochemicals and genes, both number and range, vital stuff of life; Who knows what potential is there for plant breeders, for drugs researchers; Essential for stable, secure, functioning ecosystems and natural cycles...; The intrinsic right to exist...

Humanity: Forests make a huge contribution to the human species as a whole; They are a resource in the widest sense for the whole globe; Loss of forest is a loss to us all.

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