Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why Earth's Forests Protect You -- And How You Can Protect Them

Growing up, my family would often go camping. My father was raised a farmer in Southern Arizona who spent much of his youth outside on the farm or up in the mountains. My mother spent her summers as a youth in the mountains of Northern Arizona herding cattle on horse and hiking the woods with her brother. So both my parents wanted to impart some of that love for nature to their city-raised children. As a result, I do love hiking and being in nature. I love forests and have deep respect for them.

If you haven't taken your family to Disneynature's "Earth," I encourage you to do so ... see it on the big screen. It's worth it. One point that was driven home for me in that film was the importance of our forests in protecting Earth's climate and its inhabitants, especially the Boreal Forest.

The Boreal Forest, also known as the Taiga, actually stretches across the entire top of the world's land mass -- the northern part of Canada, Alaska, Russia, Eurasia.

This vast wilderness is not only the habitat for large amounts of wildlife but also protects our planet's climate. Speaking of the North American portion of the Boreal, says Greenpeace ...

North America's Boreal forests are an ecological gem, a refuge of wilderness in a world where more than four-fifths of all intact forest landscapes have been lost or degraded. It stretches from Alaska to the Atlantic Ocean across an area of approximately 1.4 billion acres.

The Boreal forest is the largest tract of ancient forest left in North America and represents 25 percent of the world's remaining ancient forests. Like the Amazon, the Boreal forest is of critical importance to all living things. Its trees and peatlands comprise one of the world's largest "carbon reservoirs" - carbon is stored in the Boreal forest and not released into the atmosphere, thus helping stabilize the climate. As a vast and intact forest ecosystem, it supports a natural food web, complete with large carnivores like bears, wolves and lynx along with thousands of other species of plants, mammals, birds and insects. With its wetlands filtering millions of gallons of water each day, the Boreal forest contains 80 percent of the Earth's unfrozen freshwater.

The problem is that the Boreal forest is under attack --
  • Oil and fossil fuel drilling is pressing to take place there, to the destruction of forests and habitats
  • Logging is also a threat, because most logging is not regulated or sustainable and these forests are very slow to regrow
  • Dams have been built that flood habitats, a highly destructive way of killing off the needed forest

And, what becomes a vicious cycle, global warming is increased by release of greenhouse gases as forests are destroyed.

This is what has been brought to light by the Conservation International campaign"Lost There, Felt Here" as the organization looks to promote protecting and rebuilding of tropical rainforests. You may have seen Harrison Ford's PSA where he gets his chest hair ripped off to campaign for Conservation International.

As one person, what can you do to help?

I encourage to post your comments here for other ways you've found would be DOABLE for the average consumer to help in protecting forests around the world.

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