Our reliance on forests does not know bounds, and sometimes we don’t even notice how much we rely on these natural resources for our survival. From the air we breathe to our shelter and homes, the forest offers a series of benefits to humans. It is also home to animals and a source of protection for earth against erosion. Despite all these, the forest continues to disappear due to expansive agriculture, indiscriminate logging, and bushfires.
In Australia, bushfires have affected the forest massively leading to loss of different species of trees, some which have been in existence for a long time but now threatened due to a series of actions and consequences, all which can be traced to human beings. With 134 million hectares of forest space which constitute 17% of its landmass and 3% of the world’s forest area, Australia has a major role to play in the conservation of forests.
Australian forests are one of its most valuable natural resources due to their diversity which include species that cannot be found in any other part of the world. The forests are categorised into eight forms which are Rainforest, Acacia, Eucalypt, Casuarina, Mangrove, Melaleuca, and Callitris. There are many other categories of native forests available in the different states of Australia. Given the diversity of forests in Australia, it is necessary for everyone to understand their significance because only then can we all do our best to ensure their preservation.
In at least one thing you will do in a day, you are going to use a forest product. Whether you are sitting on a chair, writing in a book, or eating, forest products are everywhere. Globally, over 2 billion people rely directly on the forest for shelter, food, medicine, livelihood, water, and fuel. About 60 million indigenous people live within these forests, and it is home to 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity. On livelihoods, Over 13 million people rely on the forests directly for jobs globally but sadly, all this has not stopped us from losing forests with a landmass the size of South Africa between 1990 and 2015 alone.
The tragic part of this is that while trees are usually the major targets of those who use forest resources indiscriminately, it is not only trees that are affected. Once the trees are gone, the entire ecosystem gradual of disappears as well and living organisms are forced to migrate to another area or die. The significance of forest to the protection of the earth and its benefits all living organism is further listed below:
- They absorb greenhouse gasses that cause climate change, and in the tropical forests alone, over 250 billion tons of carbon are stored.
- They protect watersheds and also mitigate erosion and slow down harmful chemicals from reaching the waterways,
- They serve as a natural buffer against disasters such as flood, heavy rainfall, etc.
- They provide habitats to more than 50% of species on land.
- When all these are considered, it is only right that we will understand how much we depend on the forests and do all we can to protect them.