Reforestation and afforestation, although different acts are essentially the same. Reforestation is the restocking of existing forests and woodlands that have been depleted – usually through deforestation. It can be used to rectify or improve the quality of human life by soaking up pollution and dust from the air, rebuild natural habitats and ecosystems, harvest resources, and mitigate global warming. Forests facilitate biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Afforestation, on the other hand, is the planting of forest on previously un-wooded areas. It refers to the process of restoring and recreating areas of forests that may have existed long ago but were deforested or otherwise removed at some point in the past or lacked it naturally. Sometimes the term “re-afforestation” is used to distinguish between the original forest cover and the later re-growth of forest to an area.
Researchers from the Universities of Kiel and Lüneburg as well as colleagues from Leipzig and Minnesota, USA found great differences between centuries-old forest soils and afforested sites. Their study shows that deforestation is not so easy to reverse. If it were truly possible, then it would take centuries. That is evident by the trees that are already standing. Unlike the planted trees, these are less sensitive to changing environmental conditions. The positive result: the forest is more stable. Oak trees, for instance, become rougher on former farmland.
But both, reforestation and afforestation help the environment – even if one of them does so in small pieces. In the following article, we will look at how important reforestation truly is.
Worldwide deforestation affects us all
Forests provide us with clean water, fresh air, and help keep our climate in balance. That is due to the fact that they bind carbon dioxide. If they are cut down, the greenhouse gases stored in plants and soils are released. So the effects of deforestation include disturbed water and oxygen cycles as well as soil erosions. The latter we have witnessed in the past year in countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the USA.
Deforestation also causes mudslides. Otherwise known as debris flows, mudslides are a type of landslide that can occur after a natural disaster, such as a wildfire. Typically, they often contain mud, rock, and other materials. Early last year, California has been victim to such an event. The land there quickly eroded when there was no vegetation to hold it in place. Fire is naturally hot enough to burn the organic matter in the soil, which helps the earth to absorb water when it rains. By burning the organic matter, a wax-like layer is produced. This layer does not allow water to penetrate the soil. This is the so-called “hydrophobic effect”. The blockage of water makes large trees break loose and slide down a slope.
Another major effect of the lack of trees is floodings, which trees could prevent. Just put them near water – in wetlands, for instance – and they can do wonders.
Wetlands are areas displaying open water and dry land. They develop where water creates distinctive soil conditions and plant communities. Wetlands are very important for nature because they can prevent flooding by temporarily storing and slowly releasing stormwater. They also reduce water flow, thus allowing sediments and associated pollutants to settle out. Beneficial microorganisms live on wetland plants and process some forms of pollution. In addition, roots of wetland vegetation hold soils in place, thus stabilizing the banks of rivers and streams. Water-loving eucalyptus trees are very suitable in marsh areas. Because they need big amounts of water, they can be used to dry them up – just like a sponge. They do so by allowing water to evaporate through their leaves. Draining swamps can also reduce the risk of malaria.
Deforestation is thus one, or maybe even the main cause of global warming.
Where are trees most needed in nature?
Simply put, trees are needed everywhere, where humans cut down trees without rehabilitating or reforesting their stock. Afforestation currently takes place in the tropics and subtropics, such as Paraguay. By 2020, 10% of the state’s forest should be natural forest. This should primarily serve nature conservation. But as aforementioned, trees in afforested areas are not as stable as in already planted areas. So does that even help the climate?
Forests store CO2. They have relatively high biomass and thus also carbon stock. So by planting trees – be it through reforestation or afforestation – CO2 is reduced. Besides, a non-stable forest is better than no forest.
Demand for wood worldwide, and especially in Paraguay, continues to increase and will remain so in the coming decades. Afforestation efforts need to be stepped up to meet demand and preserve the planet’s natural forests. TreeCoin’s contribution to this is the constant expansion of forest areas, which is increased annually by new afforestation. The demand for wood is inevitable; people will keep cutting trees to get timber. The rainforest is usually victim to such acts. To literally protect it, TreeCoin is planting an alternative supply of wood that is used for the timber market only. This variable allows the rainforest to be preserved because the wood demand is otherwise met.
The life of a tree
The uses of trees are many. The various seasonal and ripe fruits trees give, are just one example. But let’s take a look at its bark – the wood, to be more specific. Wood, just like fruits, is the primary product of a tree. It is used for power, paper, and the timber market, where it is either sold whole, as slats, or as furniture. These products are then either put in regional wholesale or exported internationally. For instance, IKEA uses some eucalyptus wood for their pieces of furniture, such as the HASSELÖN table and chairs.
Ideally, wood is then recycled and reused after going through processing again. Recycling timber was popularized in the early 1990s because issues such as climate change and deforestation surfaced. As a result, timber suppliers and consumers turned to a more sustainable timber source.