Forests and trees make Earth liveable. They provide us with clean air and water. By storing vast amounts of carbon and moderating the climate, they are a critical defence against global heating. They are home to most of the planet’s amazing biodiversity. They provide shade, recreation and a sense of well-being. And they support the livelihoods of billions of people around the world.
Forest ecosystems are under intense pressure from our rising population and its hunger for more land and resources. Globally, we are losing about 4.7 million hectares of tropical forest every year, an area the size of the Dominican Republic or Slovakia, often to make space for agricultural commodities such as palm oil and beef. Many remaining forests are degraded because of logging, firewood cutting, pollution and invasive pests. Even trees outside forests are disappearing to make way for houses, roads and dams and for intensive agriculture. Wildfires, which are made worse by climate change, can devastate forest ecosystems.
Restoring forest ecosystems involves returning trees to former forest land and improving the condition of degraded forests. As well as planting native tree species, it can include conserving wild plants and animals and protecting the soils and water sources that are part of the forest ecosystem. Land cleared for farming that falls into disuse is ideal for forest restoration. In existing forests, native species can be planted to regenerate the tree cover. In some cases, forest trees will re-grow naturally. Forest restoration can also mean nurturing patches of forest and woodland in landscapes that also include busy farms and villages.
To learn more:
- The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration
- The Collaborative Partnership on Forests
- Global Forest Resources Assessment
- UN REDD Programme