Forests cover more than 30% of the earth’s surface area and have played an essential role in the development of diverse animal life from which humans have also evolved. Despite the vital role forests play in human life, human industry, developments, and progress are responsible for cutting down trees on a massive scale internationally.
With Norway being the first country in the world to place a prohibitive ban on deforestation, many forward-thinking experts are asking, “Why isn’t everyone doing this?” Deforestation refers to the large-scale clearing of forests and wooded areas for a large variety of reasons but always with the same dire consequences.
While this type of activity may seem very far away from your living room, desk, office or city, the effects are not nearly so distant. In the following article, we will take a closer look at how the horrors of deforestation can turn our paradise into a nightmare.
Deforestation Creates Deserts
The lush forest and great canopy of foliage high overhead play an important role in spreading life that is not adapted to the extremes in temperatures and scant moisture. Trees keep the sun’s rays from depleting the moisture in the soil and scorching plant life. As the forest grows, it claims more ground and supports more life.1
Deforestation slashes away at this protective layer and bares the earth below to full absorption of the sun’s powerful rays. As the sun scorches the earth the moisture is quickly evaporated and the water cycle that supported ecosystems is broken. Without the trees to support life, the region will become a dusty wasteland.
Disruption of the Carbon Cycle
Is the weather getting crazy or what? It may have something to do with the lack of trees. Trees and forests play an essential role in the earth’s carbon cycle that ties down harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen and many of the contaminants produced through human industry and development are absorbed by trees and carefully sequestered or even transformed into benign compounds.2
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According to the experts, the greenhouse effects affect the climate and can result in extreme and bizarre weather phenomena as being experienced across the globe. The severity of hurricanes may also be caused by the increase of greenhouse gases and the incapacity of forests to fully absorb them. Dry spells and droughts are another possible climate change caused by global warming.
Dry spells can pose hazards of their own that exacerbate the condition. Forest fires and brush fires occur more frequently when there is less rain and this can contribute to the rising levels of carbons in the atmosphere.
Melting of the Icebergs
As deforestation corrodes the balanced carbon cycle, global warming can produce other problems. Right now, greenery is sprouting up across the Arctic and Antarctic regions where there used to be nothing but glaciers. The ice shelves are retreating and the icebergs are vanishing in the wake of severe climate changes. What does this mean to you?
If the icebergs melt, the salinity of the seawater may be shifted ever so slightly. The balance of the oceans is based on this specific salinity and the way the heat of the sun warms the currents that affect the land may also be changed. Rising sea levels can pose another set of problems to the 50% of the world’s population that lives on the coastlines.
Reduced Quality of Air
Even though we all know about half the oxygen we need to breathe comes from trees and forest (50% from the oceans and plankton), the many other benefits forests provide to the air we breathe are sometimes overlooked.
Forests act as giant air filters that purify the air of contaminants, and this directly affects the health of humans, especially those living in big cities. Contaminants in city air have been found to be a major culprit in the development of a variety of respiratory conditions.
In addition to filtering the air from toxins, forests and trees fill the clean air with healthy terpenes and other volatile organic compounds that have been studied for their effects on human health. The practice of Shinrin-Yoku involves an intentional sensory immersion in the healthy environments of the forest. This practice has been found to improve immune function, prevent cancer and greatly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Check out Forest Bathing: Top 10 Benefits for more information.
These naturally beneficial compounds have been part of human development since the times of our tree-dwelling ancestors. Rising evidence suggests that removal from these airborne substances can have negative effects on mental and physical health.
From the delicate balances of the water and carbon cycles to the vital oxygen needed for breathing, the forests of the world are intimately tied to human life and health. While we are certainly glad to see the fine example Norway has set in creating laws to protect their forests, this is merely a good start in a global plan for saving the forests.
If you are a good friend of the forest or simply love the breathtaking natural smells of the deep woods, take a look at the MONQ Forest Portable Diffuser. This pint-sized canister contains all the healthy goodness of the deep forest air for a refreshing trip to the woods with all its sensory delights wherever you are.
Photo credits: RichCarey/shutterstock.com, Pedarilhos/shutterstock.com, BernhardStaehli/shutterstock.com, RichCarey/shutterstock.com, AndriySolovyov/shutterstock.com