ESSAY: Using examples from the industrialised and developing world, explain how and why we should conserve woodlands & forests
Forests and woodlands provide many social, economic, and environmental benefits. In addition to timber and paper products, forests provide a wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, prevent soil erosion and flooding, help provide clean air and water, and contain tremendous biodiversity. Forests are also an important defence against global climate change. However, huge areas of the richest forests in the world have been cleared for wood fuel, timber products, agriculture, and livestock. This is why we must take extreme measures to conserve these natural resources.
We can conserve forests and woodlands by careful management of the woodlands and forests, also by limiting deforestation and by adapting good forestry practices and to encourage woodland owners to help sustain their land. New by-laws have been implemented in which if a heavy fine and/or prison sentence may follow if a person breaches their conservation agreement.
Britain is a good example of an industrialised country that is adapting strong conservation methods to help retain their native woodland. This involves special areas being designated National Parks or ESA’s etc. National Parks allow total protection of an area under law and is cared for by the National Trust aswell as the private landowners. Environmentally Sensitive Area’s (ESA’s) are to maintain areas of natural beauty and to allow habitats to be protected from destruction.
Brazil in the developing world is home to the Amazon rainforest which is under constant exposure to deforestation. The cause of this large scale destruction is purely for economic reasons for timber and minerals etc. An estimated 3 hectares of forest is destroyed every minute and this must stop. The developing world must take action and adapt new ways of ensuring they protect their forest from exploitation.
There are many ethical and aesthetical reasons for why we should conserve woodlands and forest's is because everything has the right to live including trees. The environment is also the target of pleasure seekers and therefore it is needed to continue as a source of pleasure for people to enjoy and appreciate. Example: People like to escape the cities at the weekends or for holiday breaks to feel escape and to enjoy beautiful scenery aswell as watching wildlife. Ecotourism will be benefited by tighter conservation laws and will allow more people to be able to enjoy the natural environment without spoiling/ruining it in the process.
There are many other ecological reasons of why we must conserve forests and woodlands. Plants are essential for regulating the atmosphere, the water cycle and is also a vital part of both the the nitrogen and carbon cycles. They form the soil and are a source of dependency for many plants, animals, birds and insects. One of the most important reasons to conserve is the potential for discovering wonderful new medicines that could hold the cures to the worlds worst diseases, this would also have enormous economic benefits for the country where discovered. E.g. a discovery in the developing world could bring billions of investment into the country and could help eliminate poverty.
The conservation of forests and woodland is essential as the world’s forest contain great biodiversity and is a major habitat to millions of species. The threats of logging and urban expansion are jeopardising the world most valuable resource.
ESSAY: Discuss the ways in which “afforestation” may influence:
Climate, Soil, Water Cycle
Afforestation can bring great benefits to the world. The effect on the climate can be dramatically greater when compared to deforestation.
Afforestation has had many success stories throughout the world. E.g. in Finland during the 1960’s a massive area of 200,000hectares was planted. The results showed that after a scenic beauty assessment all the areas afforested now had a higher scenic beauty rating. And many animals returned to a new habitat that they had previously lost.
Afforestation has many climatic impacts in relation to the greenhouse effect. The trees take in more Carbon Dioxide which is allowing negative feedback to occur, therefore resulting in a reduction in Carbon Dioxide levels. Due to the way C0 2 is an insulating gas, the removal of this gas actually lowers the temperature, so afforestation can actually help control the temperature and prevent the enhanced greenhouse effect. Afforestation can also affect winds by acting as a windbreak and can help in preventing soil erosion it acts as a saltation.
The planting of more trees will help improve the humidity particularly in dry areas where the atmosphere and air is very dry and lacks moisture for further plant growth and vegetation.
The gain of deep rooted plants can prevent land from being degraded. The deep roots can reach deep down to find the groundwater and will transport its up from the ground and up into the atmosphere as part of the hydrological cycle. The roots help bind the soil. It also affects salinity by transpiring water it helps keep the water table well below the surface and prevents salinisation from occurring.
Trees also intercept some rainfall from reaching the ground and this helps prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
Other climatic factors are influenced by forest cover. An article in New Scientist magazine shows that new climate models have found that forests help cool the atmosphere as the water evaporating from leaves absorbs heat, it also stated that the location chosen to afforest is important as if you chose to plant a forest to take in C0 2 it could actually lead to warming if it was planted in a region where snow falls, as this would change the lands albedo value and would reflect less sunlight.
The forest has major influences on the hydrologic and carbon cycles, regulating the conversion of precipitation to runoff, CO 2 fixation, and evapotranspiration. It also influences the hydrologic cycle on the ground surface and maintains the production of biomass and vegetation.
Areas of large forest cover will have high precipitation levels and high humidity related to the amount of water present in its local atmosphere due to the forests water holding system. Afforestation will affect the water cycle in a positive way by helping areas with low rainfall have more precipitation for its local crops etc.
© Stephen McGrath 2003