International Day of Forests
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to take a stroll at the Mechanic village in Ogudu GRA, Lagos state, Nigeria. This particular business district is a spot in Lagos where the finest automobile maintenance technicians and companies coexist and ply their trade. And the geography was highlighted with lots of trees, broad leaved trees with, large branches large trunks and outstanding buttresses where both clients and visitors sit and cool off most evenings when the sun’s smile is very bright.
So, as I was on a stroll around Mechanic village I noticed a difference, I noticed that the temperature was unusually hot, and the trees that once graced the avenue were no longer up and enchanting. They have been cut as a plan for drainage channel expansion construction had begun and therefore the trees were supposedly in the way of the drainage channel. The natural cooling system of the business district has been destroyed invariably and at some point I overheard someone say “why did they cut these trees, this heat is so much, those trees were helpful,” while others nodded in agreement to the basic fact that trees serve as natural cooling systems.
The International Day of Forests
The International Day of Forests was established on the 21st day of March, by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2012. Each year, various events celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests, and trees are planted outside forests, for the benefit of current and future generations. Countries are encouraged to undertake efforts to organize local, national, and international activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns, on International Day of Forests.
Each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost, an area roughly the size of England. As forests are lost, so does the unique plant and animal species that they envelope — 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity. Most importantly, forests play a critical role in climate change including global warming: deforestation results in 12–18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions — almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. Equally crucial, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary carbon sinks. Today, forests cover more than 30% of the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 tree species, many of which are yet unidentified. Forests provide food, fiber, water and medicines for approximately 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people, including indigenous people with unique culture.
WHAT IS A FOREST?
A forest is a large area dominated by trees. Hundreds of more precise definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. Forests provide ecosystem services to humans and serve as tourist attractions. While Forest reserves are portions of state lands where commercial harvesting of wood products is excluded in order to capture elements of biodiversity that can be missing from sustainably harvested sites
There are four different types of forests found around the world namely:
· Tropical Forests
· Temperate Forests
· Boreal Forests
· Plantation Forests
The importance of forests cannot be underestimated. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihood for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.
BENEFITS OF FORESTS
The benefits provided by forest ecosystems include: goods such as timber, food, fuel and bio-products. Ecological functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification, and maintenance of wildlife habitat; Social and cultural benefits such as recreation, traditional resource uses and so on.
Forests also aid in reducing the chances of flood occurrence. Big trees absorb excess water in rainy season thus reducing floods and destruction. Secondly, from a commercial point of view, they also provide the raw material used for wood based industries. They are a source of timber which is used for construction.
Forests also support the life of some of the world’s endangered species. Forests play an important role in the purification of the atmospheric air. During the day, trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and give out oxygen. As such, they help in the purification of the air that we breathe.
Deforestation is the process of destroying a forest and replacing it with something else and this involves a large scale or irregular felling of trees by the lumberjack. Deforestation has negative implications on the environment in terms of soil erosion, loss of biodiversity ecosystems, loss of wildlife and increased desertification among many other reasons.
The annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria is 3.5%, approximately 350,000–400,000 hectares per year. As of late 2012, nearly half of Nigeria is forested (defined as land with more than 10 percent tree cover), but the country’s rainforests are fast declining. In Nigeria 12.2% or about 11,089,000 hectares of Nigeria is forested. Of this, 2.9% or roughly 326,000 hectares is classified as primary forest, the most bio-diverse form of Nigeria also experienced a change in forest cover between 1990 and 2000 — Nigeria lost an average of 409,700 hectares of forest per year.
Deforestation can have a negative impact on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of wildlife species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. The loss of trees and other vegetation can cause climate change, desertification, soil erosion, fewer crops, flooding, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a host of problems for indigenous people.
HOW CAN CHILDREN BE ENCOURAGED TO HELP MITIGATE DEFORESTATION
Here are some simple ways Children can help save trees.
a. Use paper wisely. We can save trees from being cut down by using less paper
b. Play and create with trash
c. Borrow, share and donate books
d. Plant a tree
e. Visit the forest
THINGS WE CAN DO AS INDIVIDUALS TO HELP PROTECT THE EARTH
· Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away.
· Volunteer for cleanups in your community.
· Conserve water.
· Opt for activities or products that encourage sustainability
· Shop wisely.
· Use long-lasting light bulbs.
· Plant a tree
Reforestation which is the act or process of replanting a forest especially after clear cutting and can be used to rectify or improve the quality of human life by soaking up pollution and dust from the air, rebuild natural habitats and ecosystems, mitigate global warming since forests facilitate bio-sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and harvest for resources, particularly timber.
So, please endeavor to plant a tree today, by doing so, you are directly installing a natural cooling system in your environment and also a natural atmospheric air purifier and in turn you are mitigating climate change in that regards.