Every 21st March the United Nations raises awareness of the importance of forests. The International Day of Forests for 2023 aims to promote education to learn to love forests. It highlights the importance in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation (United Nations, 2023). At Arbortec we will be discussing the misconception that forests are better off without human intervention.
Responsible Forest Management
Forests cover 31% of the global land area and approximately half the forest area is undamaged. Forests contribute not just to our health, but they also purify the water we drink, clean our air, capture carbon to fight climate change, provide life-saving medicines and food and improve our well-being. For example, several studies have found that simply visiting a forest environment lowers blood pressure, pulse rate and reduces cortisol levels. With all of this information you'd think that forests are better off not being touched by humans, remaining unspoiled by the outside world.
The ultimate goal of responsible forestry is to manage global crises such as climate change because of deforestation caused by agriculture and housing developments, which increase carbon emissions. So when is it actually ok for a tree to be felled?
Threat to the Environment
Diseased trees can cause safety hazards as large quantities of dead wood can create a major threat to the environment. If not cut down, the disease can spread to other trees and cause an entire species to become extinct. Diseased trees may also become unstable so fast detection and pruning can ensure the environment is kept safe for those walking nearby. Ultimately, in the case of a dead or infected tree, the best course of action is tree felling.
Aside from safety, a tree might be in an unsuitable location because of subsidence or if an insurance company recommends tree felling to reduce risk of structural damage. This can sometimes be due to the growth of tree roots from nearby trees, which can have an effect on a building’s foundations. In these cases it is often best to remove the tree.
That being said, whilst there are many reasons to remove trees, there are plenty of reasons not to cut them down. For example, when big corporations cut/burn down trees to make electricity and cash crops such as palm oil and rubber, the result is increased climate changing carbon emissions, devastated ecosystems and displaced wildlife.
Scientists have proven that even when trees are replanted immediately, this doesn’t include additional emissions related to preparing, harvesting and shipping wood pellets. Furthermore, burning wood for renewable energy, unsustainable agriculture and illegal logging has a major impact on forest degradation and threatens wildlife - even one tree can support the habitat of woodland creatures. Not forgetting that in just one year, a mature tree can absorb over 48 pounds of carbon dioxide, the main cause of greenhouse gases, this is a critical role in fighting against global warming as the trees release oxygen in exchange.
Therefore, in certain scenarios it may be best for human intervention to manage responsible forest management rather than allowing the overuse of forests by large profiteering organisations. You can browse Arbortec’s lightweight, comfortable and breathable forestry trousers here.