It is probably safe to say that most people have encountered a forest at some time in their lives, but we may not have appreciated how vital it is to our well-being, whether we live in a city or in a rural area. They are called the lungs of the earth for good reason.
The world’s forests influence our climate and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen – essential for all living organisms. They filter out harmful impurities such as acid rain, from both air and water. Forests are home to the majority of the world’s animals, both large and small.
Forests help prevent erosion by retaining vital topsoil. They regulate stream flows and help prevent flooding, as well as ensuring rainfall. They provide shade to cool the streams and maintain a stable environment for fish that inhabit the streams and rivers. They are also home to many indigenous peoples, who rely upon the forest’s resources for survival.
Over 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide can be absorbed by every acre of trees annually. Despite the obvious essential need to retain the world’s forests, they are rapidly disappearing through poor logging practices and planning, often with disastrous consequences.
As a result, the higher temperatures we are experiencing are melting the polar ice caps and glaciers, causing sea levels to rise. Many animal and plant species cannot adapt quickly enough to survive. It is predicted that there will be an increase in the number of forest fires because of the increase in temperatures as well as an increase in acid rain pollution.
One-tenth of the remaining forests globally can be found in Canada, varying from the great northern bands of boreal forest to temperate forests found mostly in Western Canada.
Forests are characterized by an abundance of trees and woody vegetation, and are most often classified by latitude into three major types: Boreal forests, Temperate Forests, Tropical Forests.
Forest Ecosystem References: