• 4 Key Trends That Could Impact Forests

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4 Key Trends That Could Impact Forests

Feb 03 2021

The planet’s forests are crucial to the survival of countless organisms living upon it. Not only do they provide a physical habitat for both humans and animals, but they can absorb carbon, combat global warming and help to create a healthier environment for everyone.

Despite their importance, however, forests are under attack. A new collaborative study from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Manchester has identified four key trends which could jeopardise our forested areas over the coming decade.

Drought

The continuing creep of climate change has led to a greater proliferation of extreme weather events. While this has sometimes taken the form of excessive rainfall and violent storms, it can also manifest itself in the shape of prolonged periods of drought.

These droughts are devastating for the populations which rely on precipitation for their drinking water and to irrigate their crops, but they can also serve as a chief contributor towards forest fires. When forests are starved of water and dry out completely, they are much more conducive to going up in flames.

Viral outbreaks

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc on the economies and populations of countries the world over, but the environmental implications of the disease are sometimes overlooked. In some nations, unscrupulous politicians have taken advantage of the confusion caused by the pandemic to relax environmental restrictions and ramp up deforestation.

What’s more, there could be a direct causal link between droughts and viral outbreaks. That’s because when droughts precipitate forest fires, animals fleeing from the infernos can carry diseases with them into otherwise unaffected parts of the globe. That facilitates the spread of the viruses and opens the door for cross-species contamination, thus creating a vicious cycle of deforestation.

Urbanisation

Urbanisation might sound intuitively like it can aid forestation efforts, since fewer people living in the countryside can create more space for the planting of trees. While that is true, the phenomenon of rural communities migrating to urban locations can simply encourage population growth, thus prompting an increase in demand for food production.

In turn, that food must be grown in areas that were once given over to forests. Therefore, urbanisation can place unsustainable demands on the agricultural industry and the worst repercussions of that are felt in deforestation efforts.

New road networks

While the automotive and technological communities are searching for environmentally friendly forms of road transportation, the simple fact remains that all vehicles need roads to travel on, regardless of the fuel source powering them.

According to some estimates, the network of roads in place worldwide is expected to increase by a whopping 25 million kilometres over the next 30 years. Inevitably, forested areas will be cleared to make way for those thoroughfares, empowering human mobility at the expense of Mother Nature.


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