Trees make forests, ecosystems that are vitally important to human existence. Forests account for 75% of the productivity of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. Forests convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass, acting as a carbon sink, aiding in regulating climate, purifying water, mitigating natural hazards such as floods and serving as a genetic reserve. Healthy forests are biodiversity with a variety of trees, epiphytes and ground cover. Forests are home to a great variety of animals, birds, insects and microorganisms. Diversity and symbiosis are the key features of healthy forests.Land-clearing, logging and fires destroy the marvelously intricate ecosystem of forests.
I live on the edge of the coastal rain forests of British Columbia (BC),Canada. I have spent many years exploring the forests, finding a few stands of first growth giant trees of great age. I am a tree hugger who feels the powerful presence of these old giants. If I were in charge of planet earth I would shrink cities, restore forests and fields with wild flowers and butterflies. In British Columbia, Canada, old growth is defined as 120 to 140 years of age in the interior of the province. In the coastal rainforests, old growth is defined as trees more than 250 years, with some trees reaching more than 1,000 years of age.
B.C.′s forests contain enormous volumes of timber (roughly 11 billion cubic meters). Spruce, lodgepole pine, and hemlock account for 61% of the growing stock. Approximately one-half of this timber is located on land available for harvesting. B.C.′s forests are disturbed and renewed by the actions of humans, fire, insects, and diseases. Lodgepole pine trees throughout the B.C. Interior have been killed by an outbreak of the mountain pine beetle. At the peak of the outbreak in 2007, over 10 million hectares were under attack. The outbreak had spread over 14 million hectares by 2008 and killed roughly one-half of the mature pine in B.C. Climate change and fire suppression may have helped create favorable conditions for this outbreak which is unprecedented in the historical record.
Forests at different latitudes and elevations are different ecosystems: boreal forests grow near the poles, tropical forests near the equator and temperate forests at mid-latitudes. Higher elevation areas tend to support forests similar to those at higher latitudes, and the amount of precipitation also affects forest composition. Tropic forests develop a canopy at the top of trees that supports many creatures, influences the weather and provide the planet’s best carbon capture surfaces.
Forests and WildlifeForests vary greatly in different regions of the planet. The universal features of forests involve an ecosystem and its wildlife. Indigenous humans are part of the forest ecology in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, Indonesia and Africa. These indigenous people may share their habitats with other primates – lemurs, monkeys, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. The survival of these primates depends on preserving their habits and preventing their killing by invading humans. The tropical rain forest of the Congo is increasingly protected by indigenous humans and benevolent outsiders. Trees are marked as individuals and mapped in a computer database. Selective logging can occur with the preservation of a sustainable forest ecology.