Why do we need afforestation?
As industrial and economic activities expand, global environmental problems grow ever more serious. Environmental issues will be as urgent a task for mankind in the 21st century as with overcoming population, food, resources and energy issues.
Advances in civilization in developed countries diminished forest lands as forests were converted to agricultural land and exploited as sources of energy and materials, but these have recently recovered, albeit slightly, due to plantation. On the other hand, forests in developing countries are receding rapidly as they are converted to agricultural land and sources of fuel wood by their growing number of populations.
Forests have many and varied functions. Not only do they provide industrial timber and fuel, they are also increasingly critical in the preservation of national lands, the conservation of water resources, and human health, culture and education. In addition to being home to living creatures, they contribute to maintain biodiversity and play an important role in the regulation of the climate. When we compare forest with non-forest areas within a single region, we find that forest areas are generally higher in humidity and milder in temperature. The presence of forest prevents soil run-off and erosion, maintains the fertility of the soil and mitigates sudden freshets that lead to flooding. Water released from forest areas enters the sea and nurtures a wide variety of life forms too. Forests themselves are giant sinks of carbon: they are absorbing and assimilating carbon dioxide, which accounts for the majority of the greenhouse gases that are now accelerating global warming.
Inherently, forest is a renewable resource. In creating forests in places that lack them, or where demand is high for industrial timber and fuel wood, plantation is a proven method which also contributes to environmental conservation, industrial development and community activation.
©Japan Overseas Plantation Center for Pulpwood