How afforestation and reforestation efforts let our Earth breathe

Forests are a natural way of keeping the C02 levels in our atmosphere under control. Through photosynthesis, trees capture C02 and release oxygen into the atmosphere which helps slow down global warming. The urgency of action to support sustainable forest management has never been greater. With millions of hectares of natural forests being eradicated every year to be converted to other land uses, deforestation has not only decreased the forest’s ability to absorb C02 but has also destroyed wildlife habitats and increased the risk of flooding as well as desertification. With the importance of forests to global well-being pushed into sharp focus, the inaugural Global Forest Goals Report was launched on Apr. 26 to accelerate efforts toward saving forests and therewith slow down global warming. Afforestation and reforestation are part of these efforts.

What are reforestation and afforestation?

Deforestation has decreased over the past years while both reforestation, as well as afforestation efforts, are put in place. Reforestation describes the process of planting trees in a place where the number of trees of a (formerly) existing forest was reduced or eradicated. Afforestation describes the process of planting trees in an area where there were no trees before. The main goals of both efforts are the same, while afforestation creates completely new forests. This comes with its own set of challenges as not all areas are easy to grow trees on. Depending on the quality of the soil, preparation might be necessary to plant trees successfully. The effects of afforestation as well as reforestation are tremendous and help not just in combating global warming but also in securing communities’ economic well-being which depend on the forest as a source of income.

What has been achieved?

Both afforestation and reforestation have been accelerated resulting in the velocity of our forests’ degradation being slowed down. Many programmes such as the Bonn Challenge are in place to turn grasslands and pastures, among other areas, into forests. These efforts can be seen in many areas throughout Europe, China, India, North and Central Africa as well as in the Middle East and Australia. The 2011 Bonn Challenge, for instance, aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. With these efforts, the new forests draw down C02 which in turn secures environmental benefits. It also provides habitats for wildlife, increases soil quality, creates windbreaks, and avoids as well as reverses desertification while reducing the risk of flooding. Furthermore, the economic benefits of afforestation have major effects on communities.

Forests as a green refuge for people

Apart from the positive environmental and economic effects of forests, they have also held a special place in communities’ minds, symbolling a place of retreat and peace from the hectic everyday life in a fast-paced world. For centuries, poets have written about the haven of the forest. In the meantime, the positive effects forests have on the human mind and body have been scientifically proven, while so-called forest bathing has become a recent trend in wellness. Forests have also made their way into modern popular culture where they oftentimes represent a magical realm. For instance, the tree of life in James Cameron’s masterpiece Avatar is not just the home of the indigenous people but also has magical healing powers.

The power of the forest can also be seen in the game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild where the main character traverses through the lost woods in search of shrines. Forests have also become part of the world of classic casino games such as slots. Some of the best online casinos offer a large selection of different games using all sorts of themes that can be played online at safe and licensed providers. The magic of the forest comes to play in different slots such as the Secrets of the Forest Slot which places fairies in a magical forest on its reels. The use of forests in modern popular culture, therefore, shows how they are not just of environmental and economic but also of emotional importance.

The need to accelerate efforts in sustainable forest management has never been greater. Afforestation and reforestation programmes are proving to be of great benefit, yet these efforts need to be drastically increased and accelerated to reach environmental goals and reduce global warming.

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