Why are woods and forests important?
Woods and forests are incredibly important. They provide a range of ecosystem services that are vital for our survival. They also provide homes to thousands of native species from mammals to invertebrates, and birds to fungi. It is important to protect this biodiversity for future generations to enjoy and to maintain healthy, functioning ecosystems. Yet our woods are under ever increasing pressures from human induced climate change, introduced pests and diseases and loss to developments.
In 2017, the Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched so that people in the UK could articulate the importance of trees in their lives. The resulting Tree Charter sets out 10 principles with the aim to sustain, create, celebrate and protect treed landscapes whilst making sure that the roles trees play in our lives are visible and realised in policy and practice across the UK.
Forests and sustainable cities
The theme of this year’s International Forest Day is ‘forests and sustainable cities’. Trees provide multiple benefits and can make our cities greener, healthier, happier places to live.
In urban environments trees can have a cooling effect on the surrounding area, making them effective at reducing the urban heat island effect. Trees reduce surface and air temperatures through evapotranspiration and by casting shade. They can also improve the air quality in these urban environments by removing dangerous pollutants.
Trees are also a store of carbon and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, one of the major greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Planting more trees and maintaining and protecting those that we already have is hugely important in these times of changing climate.