The Future of Forests
The world’s forests are one of the planet’s keystone ecosystems. The majority of the world’s terrestrial species (including us) depend on them for everything from oxygen to habitat to medicines to buffering against floods and drought.
Humans began altering forests with one of their first tools—fire—some 1.5 million years ago. Used to clear land, destroy pests, defeat enemies, live in colder climates, and scare off predators, burning wood is thought to have been instrumental in everything from the rise of grandparents (softer, cooked food allowed for survival beyond teeth to chew) to the enlargement of the human brain (sitting around the fire ‘chatting’).
Since then we have used wood from forests for everything from fueling the first stages of the industrial revolution to constructing our cities and our ships to making our writing materials (pencils and paper) and earning income (e.g. corporate logging, charcoal production by the poor). Today, the world's forests may contain just over 3 trillion trees, but that's only half as many as covered the earth before human civilization began its march —much of it fueled by wood..
The contemporary threats facing the world’s forests are many—and some would have been un-heard-of only a few decades ago.
Mangrove swamps disappearing (just when we needed them most)
As sea levels rise, coastlines are disappearing, agricultural areas are being swamped by saltwater, fish reproduction areas are being destroyed, and storms and tsunamis have a clearer shot at inland areas. Intact mangrove swamps are one of the best ways to stave off these calamities, yet mangroves are being cut down around the world for among other things farm land, shrimp production, and golf courses and other coastal amenities. (Except for this stretch of the India/Bangladesh coastline, where man-eating tigers stand guard—really!)
We have seen the enemy...
Reduce, reuse, restore, rebel, relate