International Day of Forests is coming up on March 21st!
Trees are the foundation of life in many ways. And their greatest value is derived when they are united, as forests and ecosystems. We like to boil those benefits down to the six pillars of clean air, water, biodiversity, social impact, health, and climate.
But there are many more reasons to appreciate all that forests do for us in the practical, everyday sense.
To celebrate International Day of Forests, we’ve put together 9 ways forests are much more than just a collection of trees.
1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.
From the rangers and conservationists who make sure our forests are protected, to the lumberjacks and carpenters who rely on them to make a living, forests offer a remarkable diversity of jobs for people around the world.
The timber industry alone is estimated to employ over 54 million people, and that doesn’t include those who are purchasing and turning that wood into the everyday products we rely on. With proper forest management, these jobs - and forests - can be sustainable both economically and environmentally.
2. What the Doctor Ordered.
While taking a long walk in the woods can be a buoy to your health in and of itself, forests also account for a significant amount of the medicine we take to heal everything else.
Some 25% of medicines are derived from plants discovered in rainforests, and much of their offerings have yet to be explored (only 1% of potential treatments from rainforest plants have been researched). However, deforestation threatens the possibility of finding the next big medical treatment breakthrough. Protecting our forests has the potential to save many lives from diseases yet to be cured!
3. Reduced Chance of Natural Disasters.
Flooding and landslides are a frequent phenomenon in many regions around the globe. The damage they cause can leave families without homes, farms, or livelihoods, and far too often cause fatalities.
Trees and forests are our best defense against these natural disasters. Forests help limit flooding by stemming the amount of water heading downstream, and their intricate root systems hold soil in place, reducing the chance of landslides.
4. Nutritious Food.
Forests are important providers of food. Trees and bushes give us nuts, berries, and sap while the forest floors sprout herbs and edible mushrooms.
But it doesn’t stop there! What we humans don’t eat becomes food for animals like deer, turkey, rabbits and birds. Forests feed entire ecosystems from the smallest of insects all the way up the food chain.
5. Home Sweet Home.
Forests are home to more than just plants and animals. An estimated 300 million people live in the world’s forests, and that doesn’t include everyone in cities who depend on forests as well.
But even if you live in the suburbs, you can thank a tree for the roof over your head. Timber is still the most common, practical, and affordable material used to build homes. Even though chopping down trees to make a house may seem antithetical to reforestation, a responsible timber industry can play a role in keeping forests healthy and thriving. It’s all about balance!
There sure is a lot of noise out there these days - cars, construction, manufacturing, that kid playing music from his phone speakers. All that sound can be harmful to your ears and your health.
Forests actually help to buffer sound and reduce noise pollution in the city. Apart from going to a forest to get away from it all, trees planted along busy highways or in industrial areas can help minimize how far sound travels, making your everyday life a little less noisy.
7. Natural Air Conditioning.
Trees and forests keep everyone a little bit cooler. Taking refuge in a park or forest on a hot summer day could lower the temperature 25 degrees (F) compared to the asphalt or concrete found in the city.
What’s more, trees within the city limits make you cooler and save you money. Shade from trees on your property can reduce your heating bill significantly during the summertime, potentially lowering temperatures in your home by up to 10 degrees!
8. Beauty and Serenity.
Who doesn’t enjoy a walk among the trees? It may be the most obvious benefit they offer, but it’s important to be grateful! Forests give us incredible scenery to soak in, take pictures of, explore, and admire. This brings us happiness and a feeling of connection to the natural world.
9. Mental Health.
Forests and nature does wonders for your mental and emotional health. Spending even a little time outdoors, or even just watching a nature documentary, can reduce stress, improve focus, lift your mood, increase energy, or help you heal faster from illness. Whatever challenges arise in life, forests seem to help us feel calmer and happier.
Thank goodness for forests.
Quite simply, life without trees would be a hungrier, hotter, and less beautiful existence. We have a lot to thank forests for!
Want a visual reminder of International Day of Forests all year long? Download our new poster below and hang it up at work, school, or just around the house to raise awareness of the amazing impact forests have on our lives.