Forests are the world’s biological storehouses, providing a circle of life that includes:
- Stabilization of landscapes and protection from soil erosion
- Watershed preservation through regulation of water flow
- Acting as buffers against diseases, pests and parasites
- Filtering silt from reaching seacoasts and rivers
- A critical necessity for maintaining climate and regulating rainfall
- Managing the Earth’s carbon cycle
Each year 16 million hectares of forest are destroyed. The majority of deforestation occurs in tropical forests and in old-growth forests.
This destruction is mainly in old-growth forests with the removal of hardwoods, such as oaks, redwoods and cedars, that take decades to mature. Pines and other fast-growing trees are planted as replacements, but the ecosystems that subsist among hardwoods cannot survive with the new softwoods.
In North America’s Pacific Northwest, the old-growth forests are home to 112 species of fish, including the salmon industry worth $1 billion per year. Destruction of these particular forests, as an example, would have a devastating effect on the job market, food industry and ecosystem.
The Eastern forest of Madagascar once was home to 160,000 identified species, and more than half were only found in this particular forest. As of 2010, more than 90 percent of this forest has been destroyed by deforestation, along with half the species originating from the forest.