A forest is a vast expanse covered by trees (Old English Definition).
I love trees. I love walking through forests. The cool, fresh air… The leaves rustling in the wind…The filter of sunlight through the trees…The crunch of the leaves as you walk… Beautiful. I feel like the trees have souls, like Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas and Ents (Treebeard) in Lord of the Rings.
In reality, forests do a whole lot for us earthlings. I agree with WWF who say, ‘It is not possible to sum up the importance of forests in just a few words’. But…I’ll try share as much as I can:
i. They act as carbon sinks. This means that they absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This greatly helps in controlling climate through cooling the atmosphere and reducing global warming.
ii. They are a VITAL watershed. Because of the thick humus layer, loose soil, and soil retaining powers of the trees’ long roots, forests are vitally important for preserving adequate water supplies through recharging aquifers (groundwater). Almost all water ultimately feeds from forest rivers and lakes and from forest-derived water tables (infoplease.com).
iii. They act as a filter for water through soil erosion prevention
iv. Are a habitat to wildlife and a few people (yes, we have people who live in forests)
v. They are of great economic importance. They provide timber and raw material for making paper. Which reminds me, when buying paper ensure that it is FSC accredited.
vi. We get food, fruits and medicinal herbs in forests.
vii. Forests provide employment…Through tourism, manufacturing (paper and timber)
viii. They act as a natural sound buffer… True story…
ix. They help us relax… Another true story…
Yet we have forgotten about them.
As we celebrate International Day of Forests today…A special shout out to all the protectors of forests and especially Kenya Forest Service locally and to all the forests: Kakamega Forest, Arabuko Sokoke, Dakacha Woodlands, Mt. Kenya Forest, Boni Forest, Ngong’ Forest and not forgetting the forest that Wangari Maathai fought for, Karura Forest.
For more on this day: http://www.un.org/en/events/forestsday/