Trees are the single most important ally that humans have on Earth. They provide homes for millions of birds, insects and other species around the world. Without our trees, the entire ecosystem would be thrown out of whack and fall into disrepair. But the single most important thing that trees do for us is produce oxygen. They don’t just produce oxygen, however, they suck up the Co2 that we emit and then produce pure oxygen for us to breath. Trees are like the air filters of the world, and right now we are giving them a lot of gunk to filter out.Co2 emissions are at record levels, so you’d think that we would put severe restrictions on cutting downs trees around the world right? Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Many countries around the world are still cutting down forests at record rates and not enough trees are being planted to replace them.
In order to get a better understanding of why we need to start planting millions of trees around the world as soon as possible, let’s take a look at some statistics regarding deforestation and the benefits that trees bring us. The Lungs of Mother EarthThe oxygen producing abilities of trees are incredibly crucial to the survival of many life-forms on Earth. Trees are so good at producing oxygen that a single tree of average size creates enough oxygen (260 pounds) to support a family of four for an entire year.
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It’s estimated that planting 20 million trees would provide the Earth with around 260 more tons of oxygen, and just a single acre of trees can take 2.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year. A newly planted forest would take many more tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, turning it into fibrous tissue.Deforestation – The War Against TreesWe cut down trees for many different reasons that might seem important now, but are ultimately pretty insignificant when it comes to the survival of our planet. Agriculture is the main reason for deforestation. Farmers have forests cut down so they can have more room for their livestock to graze, or to plant crops. Logging operations are another huge source of deforestation, with the quest for lumber over-riding any concerns about animal habitat or global warming.
Many loggers also act illegally and build roads into off-limits areas of forests. These areas are so remote that it’s hard to prevent this from happening.Scientists estimate that up to 80% of all the plant and animal species on Earth live in forests, so you can imagine what kind of effect deforestation is having on these creatures. There are currently more than 3 trillion trees on our planet, but humans have reduced the total tree count by 46% since we started deforesting. We cut down 15 billion trees per year, and do not plant nearly as many to replace the ones we harvest. Worldwide, the total forest area of the Earth continues to plummet about 13 million hectares each year.
As it stands, the worst offenders in this category are as follows; NigeriaIndonesiaNorth KoreaBoliviaPapua New GuineaThe Democratic Republic of CongoNicaraguaBrazilCambodiaMost of these offenders happen to be 3rd world countries in tropical climates, with much of the deforestation coming as a result of human expansion. Because of the lack of regulation regarding deforestation, money hungry companies are aggressively harvesting forests in these countries with little pushback. How We Can Help”The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Chinese ProverbThe battle against deforestation is being fought on many fronts right now, but doing whatever you can in your community is the best way to help. Donating to places like the National Forest Foundation, plantabillion.
org, and onetreeplanted.org also goes a long way towards supporting efforts to keep planting trees. NASA states that the Co2 levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have ever been in the past 400,000 years on Earth. This is a clear indicator that we need to both emit less, and soak up more.
While continuing to burn fossil fuels will mitigate our progress in lowering Co2, this means that planting millions of trees is more important now than ever. India recently set the world record by planting 50 million trees in a single day, setting a great precedent for the rest of the world in terms of what’s possible. Wrapping UpWe are killing our trees at a rate that cannot be sustained right now. While major countries like China, America, and others have made significant progress against deforestation, it’s not enough.
This is a worldwide fight that we all need to participate in if we want to avoid global catastrophe. As information about the harmful effects of deforestation continues to spread, we can expect rates to decline in the coming years. Until then, however, humans everywhere need to continue planting as many trees as possible to offset the destruction of our forests. Mother Earth has been kind enough to provide us with trillions of life-giving trees, it’s crucial that we protect them to the best of our abilities.