The world’s forests, which now occupy 30% of the earth’s land surface, are an extremely significant resource, storing vast amounts of carbon, aiding in the purification of water and air, preserving natural biodiversity, and providing livelihoods for millions of people. Despite their critical importance, forests are under attack on a global scale, with the equivalent of 30 soccer fields disappearing every minute.
The overall projected worth of the world’s forests is up to $150 trillion, which is roughly double the value of global stock markets. The ability of trees to regulate the climate through carbon storage accounts for the vast majority of that total value, accounting for up to 90%.
The most serious threats do not necessarily receive the most public attention. For example, recent media coverage has been particularly focused on the devastation caused by wildfires. Our analysis, however, reveals that land-use changes and rising global temperatures, both important drivers of deforestation, will be the primary causes of forest value losses. These two concerns account for over 70% of expected losses between now and 2050. If the greatest risks to forests now are not addressed, worldwide forest value will reduce by around 30% by 2050.
All parties, including governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the commercial sector, and consumers, have a role to play. Governments have a critical role in driving meaningful change by establishing a strong regulatory environment. Researchers identified six essential strategies that can protect forests and minimise deforestation, preserving forest value:
- Restore and plant forests for both protection and wood production, sustainably manage these and more existing forests, and increase their productivity.
- Boost sustainable and productive agriculture.
- Reduce meat consumption.
- Advocate for deforestation-free palm oil, soy, beef, and timber production.
- Increase wood recycling.
Ambitious but achievable action, such as following through on present global pledges for forest protection, can conserve 20% of the value and limit value loss to 10% by 2050.
For more information on ‘The Value Of Forestry’ check out the infographic below by Crowes Sawmills which takes a deeper look into the environmental and social benefits, as well as the different types and threats to forests.
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