Forests are a vital part of biodiversity and are one of the planet’s most important natural repositories for carbon dioxide. They are also continually under attack by multiple forces: more mouths to feed, more wood needed to burn and build with, more paper to manufacture, and more land needed to graze cattle.
The global pace of deforestation is sobering. We are currently losing over 15 billion trees a year. To put this in perspective, it is the equivalent of chopping down a forest the size of New York City every two days and one the size of the entire state of California every 40 months.
We have not been unaware of this problem. In fact, about 5 billion new trees are planted or sprout every year. But this reforestation effort is simply not keeping up with the deforestation that is going on.
We here in the United States are a big part of the problem. For example, while we only constitute about 5% of the total global population, we consume one third of the paper on the planet.
There are many things that can be done to help. There must be far more emphasis on the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in products. There must be more emphasis on making sustainable choices in food, wood products and more. And we need to protect more forests world-wide.
The loss of trees adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than all the cars and trucks on the road. Going to renewable energy sources and electric cars is an essential part of combating climate change, but so is preserving forests, the planet’s natural consumer of carbon dioxide.
Photo, posted March 6, 2011, courtesy of Angela Marie via Flickr.