Until we fully account for the value and benefits of our forests and ecosystems, society and industry will continue to exploit them in unsustainable practices. The following chart helps remind us of the importance of watersheds, ecosystems, forests and the endangered species within.
Trees can make our communities and homes more resilient. Deforestation is unsustainable and it is crippling our world and our lives in many ways. Most deforestation is illegal, dependent on corruption and contributing to the extinction of many plants and animals around the world.
Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuelwood and medicines for the people that live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fibre grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.
While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. Small-scale farmers also play a role, often due to poverty and insecure land tenure. Mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects are also major pressures – new roads can have a large indirect impact through opening up forests to settlers and agriculture.