Forest protection still the highest priority

As a technical magazine, we spend most of our time look at the most effective ways to make money from forests as natural resources, principally through the application of the latest technology and equipment solutions.

The focus is on raising revenues and saving on costs through minimising downtime, increasing the ease of maintenance, improving productivity and sharpening efficiencies. These must all be done with increased comfort for the operator to ensure high levels of staff retention.

When we look up from the stand every now and then, it’s often to see the place of forest resources in the context of the climate challenge, or the ‘rebuild green’ stimulus packages being rolled out globally.

Such talk has become habit for us, and most likely for our readers. But it often overlooks the overall and fundamental value of global forests. I was reminded of this last month when I was browsing my forestry newsfeed and came face-to-face with a World Economic Forum educational piece reminding people why forests are worth protecting.

What was striking was the diversity of reasoning. Yes, there was a strong environmental and conservation angle but the value of forestry products – both those familiar to our readers and others slightly more tangential – to economies and health really hit home.

Given everyone loves a list (and I’m hard up against deadline), I’d like to share the WEC top-eight reasons for maintaining our forestry reserves.

1. “Healthy forests mean healthy people”
The WEC reckons forests provide fresh air, clean water and nutritious foods, plus a place to stretch our legs. On top of this, forests provide medicines (25% of all medicinal drugs in the developed world are plant-based and this rises to as much as 80% in developing countries).

2. “Forest food provides healthy diets”
Indigenous communities eat 100 types of wild food, many from forests, while forest-based food systems are linked to dietary diversity. On the flip-side, nearly a third of emerging infectious diseases are linked to land-use change.

3. “Restoring forests will improve our environment”
Deforestation means more greenhouse gases and threatens species. At least 8% of plants and 5% of animals in forests are at “extremely high risk of extinction”. More forests put more shoulder into the climate-change battle and encourage biodiversity.

4. “Sustainable forestry can create millions of green jobs”
This one is close to our hearts. Forests support more than 86 million green jobs and plus millions of other livelihoods. Sustainablymanaged forests support a range of industries, including paper and construction.

5. “Degraded lands can be restored at huge scale”
The Great Green Wall project sought to “create a 8,000 km green belt across Africa’s drylands and restore 100 million ha of degraded land”, while creating 10 million jobs and improving food security. It would be the largest living structure on the planet.

6. “Every tree counts”
Urban forests in megacities have a value of some $500 million based on clean air delivery, food production and energy reduction.

7. “Empower people to sustainably use forests”
Communities need to “manage and govern the land on which they depend” for a healthy environment. This has the added opportunity to rebuild forest landscapes that are equitable and productive.

8. “We can recover from our planetary, health and economic crises”
Ecosystem restoration has huge benefits for all. The UN is set to target a halt, then reversal, of ecosystems degradation by planting and restoring forests on a “massive scale”. Something to thing about when you’re next in the forest.

Enjoy Chris Cann

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