Throughout man’s history, times of crisis have yielded extraordinary innovation which has been the cornerstone to the conquering of many seemingly insurmountable challenges. One thing of importance has been the willingness to cooperate to overcome these crises through joint creative action. Climate change in my opinion constitutes one such historical crisis. The irony here is however not lost on anyone as mankind’s action and inaction have been the precursor to climate change conditions worsening and is the chief cause of this historical crisis.
Climate change can be defined as any significant long-term change in the expected patterns of average weather of a region (or the whole Earth) over a significant period of time. Human activity in terms of deforestation is a real threat to the ecology of the world and a causer of climate change. Afforestation and Reforestation thus, serve as essential tools in our arsenal if climate change is to be managed and eventually curtailed.
The threats to nature vary from region to region. For example, in the tropics, agribusiness clears forests to make space for things like cattle ranching, palm oil, and soy plantations for animal feed. Demands for wood products continually threaten our forests, whether it is for throw-away paper products or hardwood flooring. Mankind’s seemingly insatiable thirst to strip nature of what she freely gives while giving nothing in return can only in the long come back to bite us (and has, and is).
In our part of the world, ineffective or corrupt governments and governance continue to make things worse by opening the door to illegal logging and other crimes against nature as a blind eye is turned with nary a thought for the ills been committed against current and future generations.
The potential to affect climate positively through tree planting is massive and cannot be understated, afforestation and reforestation must thus be adopted. Afforestation is the process of planting trees, or sowing seeds, in a barren land devoid of any trees to create a forest whilst Reforestation is the process of specifically planting native trees into a forest that has decreasing numbers of trees to supplement felled ones.
Now it begs the question, why Afforestation and Reforestation? Well let’s turn our minds back to basic school when we were taught that all plants use sunlight, water, soil nutrients, and carbon dioxide to generate energy and to grow. So when said plants then die and decay they return some of the carbon back to the sky and leave some in the ground. Over time, this leads to a net reduction of carbon in the atmosphere. This carbon reduction is essential as it impacts massively the climate in a positive manner. Not only this, plants and tress also move moisture into the air and release aerosols that can contribute to precipitation (i.e. it helps keep the atmosphere moist and less dry).
Forests are thus, a major front in the global fight against catastrophic climate changes – thanks to their unparalleled capacity to absorb and store carbon.
Forests by their very nature capture carbon dioxide at a rate equivalent to about one-third the amount released annually by burning fossil fuels. Stopping deforestation and restoring damaged forests and even creating new forestries, therefore, could provide up to 30 percent of the climate solution to the climate change challenges the world currently faces, research reveals.
It’s important to remember that forests are not just trees. They are whole self-regulating ecosystems, from the soil bacteria that fix nitrogen to fertilize roots to the rodents and birds that spread seeds to the fungi that rot away carcasses and break down tree trunks. All these organisms working together allow forests to push moisture into the air and pull carbon into the ground. Nonetheless, trees are a useful proxy for the work that forests do, particularly with respect to climate change.
Awareness of the need for forest action has never in human history been so sorely needed, nor has the ability to deliver such transformative information through the various mediums been so essential to the human world and even to human existence.
It is time the attention of the publics, from the President to the resident hawker on our streets, be turned towards the very real “disaster in the making,” that is, climate change and the huge roles Afforestation and Reforestation play if mankind is to continue our existence in our little part of the universe.
This is a historical crisis and we must all band together if we are to combat this disaster that is of our very own making.