Can you figure out what all these items have in common? Toothpaste... Bowling Alley Lanes... Piano Keys...Ping Pong Balls...
Believe it or not, they all come from trees. However, did you know that 33 million acres of forest lost each year, the equivalent of 36 football fields per minute?
In response to this frightening statistic, the International Union for Conservation proposed the Bonn Challenge. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 371 million acres of degraded land by 2020 and 865 million acres by 2030. The country of Pakistan has been actively participating in the challenge for two years now.
Pakistan's version of the Bonn Challenge -- called the Billion Tree Tsunami, was enacted because of the melting of their glaciers and erosion of riversides. Over the past decade, the country's forests have been reduced to less than three percent of its land mass. As of August 2017, Pakistan has planted one billion trees, becoming the first country committed to the Bonn Challenge to reach their goal.
Why is Deforestation an Issue?
Deforestation is the cutting down of forests to clear land for other use. While products made from trees are essential to our society, harvesting trees without any regulations is harmful to the environment.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen through a process called photosynthesis which allows plants to convert energy from sunlight into food that they can use. This process is important because it reduces the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases trap heat and radiation resulting in an increase in the temperature on earth.
Did you know that deforestation is responsible for 20% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions? The ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants makes them essential to preserving our climate and environment.
In addition to filtering air and water, forests regulate the climate by providing shade coverage and a cooling effect from the evaporation of water off their leaves. The tree roots act as an anchor to prevent the top layers of soil from eroding. Soil erosion can cause landslides and floods, destroying many ecosystems.
Perhaps the most important function of forests is the habitat they provide for over 30 million species of plants and animals. Research on species native to forests has provided us with 25% of today's medicines. Deforestation causes the destruction of these habitats resulting in a loss of biodiversity and even extinction.
What Can You Do?
Forest deforestation might seem like a big problem to tackle, but simple actions like recycling or reusing can make a large impact. If we recycle or reuse items such as paper and cardboard, fewer trees will be cut down. Be conscious of conserving products made from trees and join in on the Bonn Challenge by planting your own tree.
If you want to know more about the effects of deforestation, check out the short book and movie “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.