|Reforestation involves the process of planting or regenerating trees at a given site to establish or reestablish a forest community / Photo by MyTravelCurator via Shutterstock|
Forests are a large part of our Earth’s diverse habitats. They provide a home for animals and plants that make up our ecological diversity. But despite their importance, more and more trees are dwindling dwindle away rapidly, no thanks to deforestation.
Thankfully, in order to correct the mistakes made, many organizations have started to reverse these harmful processes to nature through reforestation.
The Goal of Reforestation
According to the Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service, reforestation involves the process of planting or regenerating trees at a given site to establish or reestablish a forest community. This can help with the acceleration or even the guarantee of forest recovery. However, the task of restoring forests is often a complex and intricate one.
Forest restoration can involve several objectives, which may range from conserving biodiversity to preserving cultural and social values, and even economic goals. Throughout history, the reforestation of agricultural lands that have been abandoned often occur naturally and without much human intervention. The active restoration of forests by people in the past was often considered a utilitarian act, as was done in the interest of securing future profits.
|Restoring forests allows us to regain a natural air filter throughout the world / Photo by iMoved Studio via Shutterstock|
However, because of human activities encroaching on and stripping forests of trees, the interest of active reforestation has become an international movement. Many organizations have decided to offer help to the cause, from small-scale NGOs to large international efforts. The 20x20 Initiative, for example, is one pledge made to restore 20 million hectares of forest by 2020, led by the United States. As stated by Global Forest Atlas, this plan was part of a much larger one, namely the Bonn Challenge, which in 2011 aimed to restore about 150 million hectares of forest land within the next 10 years.
Benefits of Reforestation
What are the benefits of recovering and restoring our forests? First, forests are a great source of fresh water in many areas of the world. Trees help prevent soil erosion and allow water to seep down into the ground. They can then filter this water out and hold it in place.
They also help maintain the purity of the air by removing the excess of harmful components, such as carbon dioxide. Restoring forests allows us to regain a natural air filter throughout the world. Forests also help combat global climate change by absorbing and decreasing the levels of greenhouse gases and sequestering the carbon.
The National Forest Foundation reports that about three thousand vertebrae species and an uncountable number of invertebrates call forest habitats their home. And, about 400 of the world’s species listed as endangered or threatened live in forest environments. Thus, restoring forests can also help endangered wildlife regain their homes and propagate.
Planting new trees allows the forest to establish a way of regenerating itself. An important part of restoration involves choosing the proper type of trees to place at the site. Oftentimes, the seeds of forests are no longer enough to supplement their growth for the coming years, so helping their regeneration allows them to recover more quickly than they otherwise would on their own. Also, planting the right species of trees will improve the resilience of a forest to future challenges, such as fire and storms.
Finally, researchers have found that there is a clear connection between human being’s mental health and physical well-being and the abundance of nature. Assisting nature to thrive and grow will also help us gain more peace of mind and stability.
Creating a Guideline
There are several artificial and natural techniques that can be utilized to set up a new forest environment. Natural regeneration methods include ones like natural seeding, root suckering, and stump sprouting. Artificial methods, on the other hand, involve methods like ground or aerial seeding and hand and machine planting.
Aside from the actual methods themselves, it is important to have guidelines that will greatly benefit the replanting and restoration process. Reforestation guidelines can improve the planning that goes into restoring a land site, especially in large areas. For one, the reforestation process itself could lead to an increase of soil erosion and exposure of the nutrients and minerals within it. It is also possible these reforestation plans could inadvertently cause sedimentation in the water reserves in the chosen areas and affect the bodies of water. It’s also possible to greatly affect or alter the already present vegetation at the site.
In order to prevent undue damage and loss of the soil and its resources, as well as to prevent damage to any existing structures and wildlife, guidelines can be adapted to make for smooth and responsible planting. It also helps improve the wildlife and tree life diversity and maintain the habitat in the long run once the forest has grown adequately.
Hopefully, with enough helping hands and a proper global plan, the forests that have been part of our planet for years will regrow and continue to protect our world and the lives of the living creatures within them.