Essay on Importance of Forest
“And into the forest, I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”- John Muir
Today, a mere 30% of our land is covered with forests. Forests are large, thick, green areas covered with trees and other plantations, and filled with animals of different sorts. There are various types of forests, namely; temperate forests, tropical forests, rain forests, evergreen forests and taiga. They serve multiple purposes from providing employment to people to acting as a tourist attraction.
They consist of biotic (living) as well as abiotic (non-living) organisms including mammals, birds, fungi, algae, shrubs, vines and other microorganisms. India has about 600 protected forest areas including sanctuaries, reserves and national parks. A lot of countries depend on their forest for their GDP’s (Gross Domestic Product) as well. Trade of forest items constitutes up to 10% of total GDP in some countries.
Forests have ecological as well as economic importance. Man has been ruthless in cutting down forests rapidly for his own selfish purposes. Forests are a natural resource that is very important for us and our survival. Without forests, life would be impossible to sustain on the planet. Following are the reasons why forests are incredibly vital to us and why we cannot afford to lose them further anymore.
Benefits of Forests
Forests absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale and pump out fresh oxygen for us. They help us breathe. A mature tree can produce enough oxygen for up to 10 people a day. By cutting down forests, we are cutting down the supply of oxygen, without which we cannot survive.
Forests support almost 80% of the biodiversity present on the land. Forests aid in the carrying out of so many processes. Worms and various insects work to make the soil nutrient-rich, birds, bees and others spread pollen and seeds around the forest, ferocious carnivores keep the tame herbivore population in control, etc. They help in the formation and maintenance of the food chain, which helps to keep this ecosystem stabilised.
Forests are not only home to animals, but millions of humans as well. They provide shelter and livelihood to tribal and indigenous people. In addition, many live near forest fringes and stretches.
Forests are also responsible for maintaining the water cycle. When rainwater falls, trees absorb it in their roots and spread it equally over the whole geographical region. This is known as water economy. They also prevent the water from running off.
Forests act as natural shade and help to keep the atmosphere cool. They also act as watershed regions. They don’t let the temperatures rise and act like coolers and air conditioners of nature. They also help to keep the earth cool by preventing global warming. More the forests more would be the absorption of carbon dioxide, which is the major contributor to the greenhouse effect.
Forests are mighty capable of altering weather conditions and influencing them. Vast and dense rainforests like the Amazon Forest have the capability of bringing frequent rains to places nearby, as well as far off.
They help in blocking winds by serving the purpose of windbreakers. They also help to prevent the lands from flooding as they hold rainwater in their roots and do not let the water overflow and flood the places nearby. Forests further help in filtering rainwater. They also act as barriers for noise pollution. Undesirable noises are subdued by the sweet voices of the melodious birds and the rustling of leaves.
Forests not only feed the fauna living there but also play a part in providing food for us humans. The food that it showers us with ranges from small stuff like edible mushrooms and berries, to large things like fish, turkey, rabbits, deer, etc.
Trees and plants are natural healers. Even taking a mere stroll or a walk in them relieves us of stress, anxiety and tension, and makes us feel calm and relaxed. Trees also release airborne compounds that help our body to strengthen and build our immune system.
Forests on top of that have proven to be of great medicinal value. Almost 70% of the cancer-treating drugs are found in the woods. They provide us with many natural medications as well like neem leaves, aloe Vera leaves, etc. Many medicinal herbs are also exported from one country to the other and scientists continuously study and test different varieties of herbs to check up on and discover their use.
Forests provide us with timber, bamboo, rubber, paper, etc. Imagining life without these products seems almost impossible.
Threat of Deforestation
Man has always been known to use things not as per his need, but according to his greed. Even after realizing how precious our forests are, men around the world are cutting trees recklessly, and the rate of deforestation is rising by the minute. Reasons for deforestation are numerous including heavy grazing by cattle, clearing big areas for the purpose of farming and agricultural activities, the need for laying railway tracks, to build buildings, dams, bridges, etc. Deforestation is more rapid in countries belonging to the Asian and the African continents.
Forests are an invaluable resource. They provide us with a considerable number of opportunities and products, including dyes, gums, resins, etc. Forest stabilise the temperature, control the water cycle and provide a habitat to thousands of creatures. Countries as well as people now have become more aware of the pitiable condition of our forests and are doing their bits to conserve and maintain our forests which play a social as well as a protective role.