Forests Don’t Need to Disappear


South of our house

We often hear about how the Amazon rain forests are being decimated. They are cut and burned to make way for agricultural crops, though the soil is thin and poor. It is easy to start getting the impression that the forests around the world are dwindling, though the Amazon isn’t close to being the only forest in the world. The truth is actually a little different from what most people are led to believe.

There are places where forests have indeed been destroyed. For instance, the area that is now Iran and Iraq was once a place dominated by vast forests. Most of the forests have been destroyed now, leaving the land to be taken over by desert. Without the trees, the land has also become salty, due to irrigation practices, and in some areas they can’t even grow rye anymore. Rye is one of the hardiest grains known to man.

With some knowledge, effort and time, the land where forests are gone can be reforested, though. Israel has and is doing exactly that. They are a world leader in reclaiming land that was once barren and waste. Their techniques are innovative and they work. The number of trees and the amount of food crops the Israelis produce is phenomenal. The land has been reclaimed, the salt has been removed and fruit trees and other crops are grown in places where very little would grow, only one or two hundred years ago.

It isn’t fair to say that the forests are disappearing, though. Many countries are working to preserve their forests. It is possible to have a happy medium between forest use and forest growth.

As an example, the United States harvests thousands of acres of trees each year. Millions of acres of trees burn up in forest fires yearly. Yet, the US plants an enormous number of trees every year, too. There are laws in place that cover the harvest and replanting, stating that for every acre harvested, an acre must be planted. Obviously, since nature also destroys forests through fires, this wouldn’t even be status quo. We’d lose ground, literally.

However, between the US forest service, state forestry services and timber companies that do the harvesting, more trees are planted than the number that are killed. In the Pacific Northwest part of the US, at least 1.5 acres of forest is planted for every acre harvested. That doesn’t count areas that have been burned and replanted by the forest service. The result is that there are a greater number of trees in the US now than there were when the land was first colonized. This is a good thing, but it isn’t close to what activists want people to know.

Other countries are also taking steps to increase the number of forests and trees, too. It is a pity that not all are, but the fact remains that the forests aren’t disappearing quite as fast as people are led to believe.




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