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[VIDEO] 'Of Forests and Men' (or Why Forest Welfare is Inseparable from Human Welfare)

December 11, 2012 | By Dina Buck

Through this enlightening, and visually stunning video, one gains a clear appreciation of our universal reliance on, and our inherent interconnectedness with, forests.  Forests are crucial to the functioning and health of all of Earth's natural systems, and play an enormous role in why every single one of us is here, laughing, crying, learning, loving, and marveling at life itself.

Forest Welfare is Inseparable From Human Welfare

Below are some of the eye-opening points from the video explaining why forest welfare and human welfare are inextricably  intertwined:

  • Forests are the "guardians of climate," storing more CO2 than is in the atmosphere.
  • Forests store, filter, and digest pollutants.
  • "They are like sponges, absorbing water during floods, and giving it back during droughts."
  • Forests are why we have rain: tree roots absorb water, and then give it off as water vapor in a process called transpiration, and the trees produce substances that seed clouds that give rain that turns in to flowing fresh water.
  • Plant life in general bonds with water, air, earth, and sunlight, forming the cornerstone of the entire living ecology humans depend on.

Life-Giving Forests Create Whole Foods, Clean Air, Pure Water, and Healing Medicine

Speaking of dependence, humans also garner other enormous benefit from forests.  For example:

  • "Half of our medicines come from the plant kingdom.  Our bodies seem to recognize and be healed by remedies derived from plants.  Our cells speak the same language.  We are of the same family."
  • Forests are home to an estimated 300 million people world-wide.
  • 1 in 4 humans on Earth, or 1.6 billion of us, are directly dependent on the forests for our daily livelihoods.
  • The rest of us – every last human being on the planet – are dependent on the benefits forests bestow: whole foods, clean air, pure water, healing medicine.
  • ETC.  (Don't forget species richness, the beauty of forests, and other intangible benefits of forests, too!)

And did you know plants have intelligence that many of us aren't even aware of?  For example, in addition to being able to detect parasites and predators, plants can create networks, exchange electrical and chemical signals, and enter into cooperative arrangements.  For these reasons and more, forests are truly precious, and priceless.

Deforestation Destroys Living Systems We Can Never Get Back, Nor Replicate

But we are destroying the planet's life-giving forests because we think they can be priced, and we are valuing them as disposable commodities, rather than as the actually irreplaceable, crucial ecosystems they are.  Imagine a span of fifteen years where, every single minute in those 15 years, almost 10 hectares of forest is destroyed.  This is what occurred between 1990 and 2005, for a total loss of 72.9 million hectares.  Furthermore, forest destruction increased from 4.1 million hectares/year between 1990 and 2000, to 6.4 million hectares/year between 2000 and 2005.  Not surprisingly, highly biodiverse tropical forests experienced the greatest losses.

Right now, ten million pristine acres of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest are being auctioned off in an oil-licensing round for an amount of crude oil that would meet our energy needs for just a few days.  And right now, indigenous peoples are fighting this.  They are fighting for their home, their health, their culture, their families and communities, their rights.  They fight for Mother Earth, and they fight for all of us, because none of us is unaffected by what happens to the forests.

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