Importance of Forests

It is not possible to sum up the importance of forests in just a few words. Forests impact on our daily lives in so many ways, even in the midst of a busy, noisy, concrete city centre. Despite our dependence on forests, we are still allowing them to disappear.
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Giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Yosemite National Park, California, USA / United States of America; Wood harvesting according to FSC norms. Logs pile. Safiental, Grisons, Switzerland; A display of some of the furniture and other final uses of certified eucalyptus timber.; Argan oil comes from the nuts of the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) which produces nuts from which is extracted a very nutritious oil.; FSC Sweden Paper manufacture. SCA supplier of paper from certified forest. Sundsval, Sweden.
© From left to right: WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER; WWF-Canon / WWF-Switzerland/A. della Bella; WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER; WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER; WWF-Canon / Edward PARKER

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From the air we breathe to the wood we love

Just think of how forests have affected your life today: Have you had your breakfast? Read a newspaper? Switched on a light? Travelled to work in a bus or car? Signed a cheque? Made a shopping list? Got a parking ticket? Blown your nose into a tissue?
Forest products are used in our daily lives. All the activities listed above directly or indirectly involve forests. Some are easy to figure out - fruits, paper and wood from trees, and so on. Others are less obvious - by-products that go into the manufacture of other everyday items like medicines, cosmetics and detergents.

Habitats for biodiversity and livelihood for humans


But looking at it beyond our narrow, human, not to mention urban, perspective, forests provide habitats to diverse animal species, and they also form the source of livelihood for many different human settlements as well as for governments.

They offer watershed protection, timber and non-timber products, and various recreational options. They prevent soil erosion, help in maintaining the water cycle, and check global warming by using carbon dioxide in photosynthesis.

Yet we are losing them

Over the past 50 years, about half the world's original forest cover has been lost, the most significant cause for that being humans beings' unsystematic use of its resources.

When we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go. The entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences for all of us.

 

 / ©: Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon
Euphorbia fiha (also plagiantha), Berenty, Madagascar. The thick latex it produces is used as glue, its leafy twigs are used for medicinal purposes.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

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