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  1. G E M

  2. We all have an inherent understanding that our lives are better because of forests. People heal faster when they can see trees out the hospital window. People willingly pay much more for a home with mature trees. Forests are called the “lungs of the earth”, and work against climate change. There is a purifying and moderating role for trees and forests related to water that is more important now than ever.

  3. Forests are essential to our survival and well-being. Forests clean our air, our water, our soil and they regulate our climate, amongst many other things. Trees and forests are not always associated with urban landscapes. However, there too they provide invaluable, often invisible, services. Simply by acting as 'green oasis' in our concrete jungles, they offer recreation and health services for many.

  4. How many of us love strolling through parks and green spaces in cities, tending our gardens and filling our homes with green plants? Access to green environments makes us happier and our bodies healthier. Scientific studies show that urban forests and green spaces help improve physical health and mental well-being. With more and more people living in urban areas, trees, forests and green spaces mean more than ever before.

  5. A. BENEFITS OF FORESTS 1. Forests Absorb and store carbon – Because trees absorb carbon dioxide and turn it into wood, where the carbon stays bound up for hundreds or even thousands of years, living forests are an important part of the earth’s climate system. Growing trees soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, roots, leaves, and forest soils.

  6. 2. Home to people – Three hundred million people around the world actively live in forests and depend on them directly as sources of food, medicine and livelihoods. 3. Source of jobs and livelihoods – More than 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests to some extent for their livelihood, according to the FAO. Some 60 million indigenous people are completely dependent on forests for all aspects of their survival. And about 10 million people are employed in forest management and conservation around the world.

  7. 4. Wood for furniture, lumber, firewood and other products – In the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, many local communities sustainably harvest mahogany and other wood, as well as chicle, which is used to make chewing gum. Panama hats are actually made from an understory palm from the coastal dry forests of Ecuador. In total, about 30 percent of the world’s forests are used for production of wood and non-wood products (such as food, resins, medicines, etc.).

  8. 5. Habitat for mammals, birds, insects – Forests are home to almost half of the world’s species, with some of the richest biodiversity found in tropical forests. Insects and worm help cycle nutrients through the soil. Many rare and endangered species, such as orangutans, gorillas and pandas, depend on dense patches of isolated forest.

  9. 6. Preventing flooding – During times of heavy rainfall, lowland forests such as those in floodplains help to absorb water and slow flood flows, preventing damage to soil, property and buildings. Lowland forests such as the blackwater swamps of the Southeast are also spectacularly beautiful habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

  10. 7. Conserving soil and water – Trees are an important part of the water cycle. By helping slow runoff and allowing water to filter into the soil, they can preserve groundwater supplies that are important both to people as drinking water and to fish and other aquatic life in nearby streams. Trees also help hold soil in place, reducing erosion by both water and wind. Deforestation in Inner Mongolia plays a role in dust storms that afflict Beijing and other East Asian cities. China has embarked on an ambitious reforestation effort in part to alleviate these problems.

  11. 8. Regulating regional climate – When trees are planted in cities, they can help to ease the “heat island” effect and provide cooling shade for homes and buildings, reducing energy usage for air conditioning in the summer. When planted strategically, they can provide effective wind barriers. Large forests also play a role in weather and rainfall patterns and micro-climates. For example, the Amazon rainforest creates conditions that result in regular precipitation for lands to the south that are productive agricultural areas and are thought to even enhance rainfall in the Great Plains of the United States.

  12. 9. Natural beauty – Trees and forests are sources of human inspiration and enjoyment – even from afar. Trees are a symbol of life, and in our modern times, of a movement to sustain the environment that all people depend upon. Polling by The Nature Conservancy shows that more than 90 percent of Americans report that trees give them a feeling of peace and tranquility.

  13. 10. So we can put trail blazes on something – The establishment of protected areas and parks often allow for development of trails for hiking, snow sports, and bird-watching, providing people who live outside of forests with a refuge for recreation, tourism, and educational activities. Walking in a forest can be a source of spiritual renewal for many (stillness broken by the whispering of pines, the call of an owl or the rustling of a small animal through brush and dried leaves).

  14. B. CAUSES FOR DELCINE IN FOREST COVER 1. AGRICUTURE: About 60 per cent of the clearing of tropical moist forests is for agricultural settlement. Millions of people live on the tropical forest with less than a dollar a day where a third of a billion are estimated to be foreign settlers. However, as the land degrades people are forced to migrate, exploring new forest frontiers increasing deforestation. Deforestation is proxied by the expansion of agricultural land. Thus agricultural land expansion is generally viewed as the main source of deforestation.

  15. Forest and other plantations: Plantations are a positive benefit and should assist in reducing the rate of deforestation. The fact that plantations remove the timber pressure on natural forests does not translate eventually into less, but rather into more deforestation. Indeed, it is feared that agricultural expansion which is the main cause of deforestation in the tropics might replace forestry in the remaining natural forests. The impact of timber plantations could thus turn out to be quite detrimental to tropical forest ecosystems . Tree crops and rubber in particular plays a more important role in deforestation in Indonesia than subsistence-oriented shifting cultivation. Moreover plantations can promote deforestation by constructing roads that improve access of the shifting cultivators and others to the forest frontier.

  16. 3. Logging and fuel wood Logging does not necessarily cause deforestation. However, logging can seriously degrade forests . Logging in Southeast Asia is more intensive and can be quite destructive. However, logging provides access roads to follow-on settlers and log scales can help finance the cost of clearing remaining trees and preparing land for planting of crops or pasture. Logging thus catalyzes deforestation . Fuelwood gathering is often concentrated in tropical dry forests and degraded forest areas. Fuelwood is not usually the major cause of deforestation in the humid tropics although it can be in some populated regions with reduced forest area such as in the Philippines, Thailand and parts of Central America.

  17. 4. Overgrazing Overgrazing is more common in drier areas of the tropics where pastures degraded by overgrazing are subject to soil erosion. Stripping trees to provide fodder for grazing animals can also be a problem in some dry areas of the tropics but is probably not a major cause of deforestation. Overgrazing are causing large areas of grasslands north of Beijing and in Inner Mongolia and Qinghai province to turn into a desert. Animals remove the vegetation and winds finished the job by blowing away the top soil, transforming grasslands into desert. When a herder was asked why he was grazing goats next to a sign that said “Protect vegetation, no grazing,” he said, “The lands are too infertile to grow Crops — herding is the only way for us to survive.”

  18. 5. Fires Fires are a major tool used in clearing the forest for shifting and permanent agriculture and for developing pastures. Fire is a good servant but has a poor master. Fire used responsibly can be a valuable tool in agricultural and forest management but if abused it can be a significant cause of deforestation .

  19. 6. Mining Mining is very intensive and very destructive. The area of land involved is quite small and it is not seen as a major cause of primary deforestation. Mining is a lucrative activity promoting development booms which may attract population growth with consequent deforestation. The deforestation rate due to mining activities in Guyana from 2000 to 2008 increased 2.77 times according to an assessment by the World Wildlife Fund-Guianas . Similarly, in the Philippines, mining, along with logging, has been among the forces behind the country’s loss of forest cover: from 17 million hectares in 1934 to just three million in 2003 or an 82 per cent decline. Nyamagari hills in Orissa India currently threatened by Vedanta Aluminum Corporation's plan to start bauxite mining will destroy 750 hectares of reserved forest. Massive and unchecked mining of coal, iron ore and bauxite in Jharkhand, India has caused large scale deforestation and created a huge water scarcity.

  20. 7. Urbanization/industrialization and infra-structure Expanding cities and towns require land to establish the infrastructures necessary to support growing population which is done by clearing the forests. Tropical forests are a major target of infra-structure developments for oil exploitation, logging concessions or hydropower dam construction which inevitably conveys the expansion of the road network and the construction of roads in pristine areas. The construction of roads, railways, bridges, and airports opens up the land to development and brings increasing numbers of people to the forest frontier. Whether supported or not by the governmental programmes, these settlers have usually colonized the forest by using logging trails or new roads.

  21. 8. Air pollution Air pollution is associated with degradation of some European and North American forests. The syndrome is called “Waldsterben” or forest death. In 1982, eight per cent of all West German trees exhibited damage that rose to about 52 per cent by 1987 and half of the trees reported dying of Waldsterben in the Alps. High elevation forests show the earliest damage including forests in the north-east and central United States.

  22. 9. Wars and role of the military It is well established that military operations caused deforestation during the Vietnam war and elsewhere. More recently, linkages have been documented between the civil war in Myanmar and the timber trade between Myanmar and Thailand. Myanmar regime sells timber to the Thais to finance its civil war against the Karen hill tribe. Forest destruction in El Salvador has resulted from war. Apart from military involvements in wars, the role of military in deforestation has been documented in Southeast Asia and South America. The authors also observed that role of powerful military in Brazilian politics are a major cause of Amazonian forest destruction.

  23. 10. Tourism National parks and sanctuaries beyond doubt protect the forests, but uncautioned and improper opening of these areas to the public for tourism is damaging. Unfortunately, the national governments adopt tourism for easy way of making money sacrificing the stringent management strategies. Further, many companies and resorts who advertise themselves as eco-tourist establishments are in fact exploiting the forests for profit. For instance, the Chilapatta Reserve Forest is opened for eco-tourism for its ancient ruins deep in the forest and a tree species Myristicalongifolia that exudes a blood like sap when injured. The site has become a popular eco-tourist destination because of the ruins and for this blood exuding tree. In the whole forest only eight individuals were found but two of the trees in the near vicinity of the ruins completely dried away due to repeated injuries caused to the plants by the curious tourists. In fact, in the name of eco-tourism, infra-structure development is taking place mostly be the private players in these wilderness areas which are further detrimental to the forests.

  24. DECLINE IN FOREST COVER Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. (One hectare = 2.47 acres.) This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. According to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, deforestation was at its highest rate in the 1990s, when each year the world lost on average 16 million hectares of forest—roughly the size of the state of Michigan. At the same time, forest area expanded in some places, either through planting or natural processes, bringing the global net loss of forest to 8.3 million hectares per year.  In the first decade of this century, the rate of deforestation was slightly lower, but still, a disturbingly high 13 million hectares were destroyed annually. As forest expansion remained stable, the global net forest loss between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares per year.

  25. The World Rainforest Movement’s ‘Emergency Call to Action for the forests and their Peoples’ asserts that “deforestation is the inevitable result of the current social and economic policies being carried out in the name of development”. It is in the name of development that irrational and unscrupulous logging, cash crops, cattle ranching, large dams, colonisation schemes, the dispossession of peasants and indigenous peoples and promotion of tourism is carried out. Harrison Ngau, an indigenous tribesman from Sarawak, Malaysia and winner of the Goldman Environment Award in 1990 puts the cause of tropical deforestation like this, “the roots of the problem of deforestation and waste of resources are located in the industrialized countries where most of our resources such as tropical timber end up. The rich nations with one quarter of the world’s population consume four fifth of the world’s resources. It is the throw away culture of the industrialized countries now advertised in and forced on to the Third World countries that is leading to the throwing away of the world. Such so-called progress leads to destruction and despair”! Such a development leads to overconsumption which is the basic underlying cause of deforestation.

  26. This educational PowerPoint Presentation (editable) is prepared by GEM Team (courtesy: internet). For other similar GEM PowerPoint Presentations on various environmental issues see next slide. These PPTs may be downloaded from our website Or visit GEM FACEBOOK