What springs to mind when you hear the word deforestation? For me, it would be the Amazon rainforest. In recent years deforestation has been on the rise, despite warnings about what this means for the biodiversity of our planet. We often tend to associate deforestation with countries far away, such as Brazil or Indonesia. This creates the idea that there is little we can do to prevent deforestation, since it’s not happening near us.
However, deforestation is occurring right here in the UK. Woodlands are under threat as the land is more profitable when it can be developed for housing, or used as farmland. The rate of deforestation versus the rate of planting trees is very high. This has knock-on effects for climate change. Even if a new tree is planted for every tree that is cut down, this does not take in nearly as much CO2 as a mature tree. A larger tree will need more CO2 to survive. When trees are cut down, they release carbon dioxide that is stored in their leaves, branches, roots and the soil. Often, the trees will also be burned to make way for new land, leading to even more CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Trees are vital in combating climate change because they not only store carbon dioxide, but prevent and impact so many other parts of the natural world. Trees help mitigate against flooding because of the amount of water they need to survive. In recent years, areas of the UK have been dangerously flooded, with a recent report stating that flooding is expected to increase due to climate change. Planting trees is more important than ever to try and prevent worst case scenarios of flooding.
Maintaining woodlands and forests is so important to sustain the biodiversity within them. They create habitats for certain plants and animals to thrive in, and without them, would affect the whole food chain which has knock-on effects for humans.
Have you noticed how calm you feel when you’re out in nature? Humans rely on trees in so many ways as they do so much for us, including helping our mental health. Being amongst trees has been proven to improve humans’ wellbeing and self-esteem.
Planting new trees is so important for all these reasons: to take in CO2, to prevent flooding; to maintain the biodiversity of these woodland forests, and improve our mental health. If you would like to get involved in some tree planting find out what Tree Action’s purpose is and help us in planting trees!