What is Afforestation and Why is it Important?

Learning what is afforestation can help us understand how it can make up for the damage produced by deforestation. Afforestation represents the effort to plant trees in barren areas to develop a forest. This method helps to check how people use natural resources by offering an alternative source pool. Through afforestation, we understand the process of planting trees in a barren land, without any trees in order to create a forest.

However, it is not to be mistaken with reforestation. Reforestation refers to the process of specifically planting native trees into a forest which has a decreasing number of trees. Hence, reforestation is in charge of increasing the number of trees of an existing forest. On the other hand, afforestation represents the creation of a “new” forest.

What is afforestation

Our planet is constantly trying to deal with the way in which people use natural resources, cut trees, contaminate the air, clear forest lands, and contaminate the soil and water. The population bursts, industrial revolution and all the sources of pollution cause permanent damage to our planet. All these contribute to global warming and climate change.

In certain situations, we need to do something to extend the life of this planet and its living organisms. We have to increase natural resources while decreasing the exploitation of these resources. When planting trees and create a forest, we manage to fulfill many of the needs of human beings without destroying the natural resources that are left on our planet.

Therefore, afforestation represents a practice that the government and non-government agencies have propagated. Their purpose is to stop over-exploitation of nature. The importance of this practice is immense in this scenario since it is mainly done for the commercial purposes such as wood products. The trees are heterogeneous in a natural woodland or forest.

Due to the slow growths and the sensitivity of over usage, we cannot use these forests continuously for commercial purposes. By planting trees in empty lands, we can help promote the fast propagation of certain types of trees in the wood industry. Since the demand for building materials and wood fuels is increasing, afforestation helps to meet the demands without cutting down the natural forests.

The importance of afforestation

A small green plant in the soil

Afforestation makes possible the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Deforestation can lead to the depletion of trees in riverside zones and water catchments. Afforestation is the process that makes sure that the plants and trees which hold the soil in these oversensitive areas are protected. Several countries use afforestation together with agricultural crops in croplands. This practice is known as agroforestry. It has certain benefits like:

  • preventing soil erosion;
  • enabling better eater-retention;
  • shielding crops from excessive sun and wind damage;
  • providing a big supply of fruit, timber, and fodder for livestock besides apart from crop production.

When it comes to the environmental benefits, it is always beneficial to plant trees irrespective of the fact that we do so in barren lands or as a way to regenerate depleted forests. Trees enable checking atmospheric carbon dioxide. Therefore, massive scale afforestation can diminish these problems that appear due to burning fossil fuels.

The efforts of planting trees

A big number of landowners in the central hardwood forest region of the US are trying to turn cropland marginally into a forest. This can help decrease the pressure on the use of current hardwood species of the forest like northern red oak, black walnut, black cherry. However, in South Africa, approximately 0.5% of the land is covered with indigenous forests.

The forests formed by Total Commercial Afforestation (TCA) cover 1.1% of the land, containing trees like black wattle, gum trees, pine and many other species. This helps to provide wood which can be used for poles, paper pulp, mining timber, charcoal and several other applications. When planting a certain tree species, this brings several advantages.

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For instance, when planting pine, this helps keep tabs on infections that the tree is prone to in its native climate and country. Hence, it increases production. South Africa pursues higher yields and better growth due to afforesting these rare species. This country can produce and export about two million tons of wood and wood products.

In China, the government has allocated a massive amount, equivalent to about 300 billion US dollars. This money would be used to develop afforesting schemes as the country is planning. In order to overcome soil erosion in West and Central China, the government has decided to start the process of turning farmland back into woodland.

The advantages of afforestation

Providing wildlife habitats

Trees are the source of almost every ecosystem, representing the place of protection, home and food source for several animal species and sometimes even humans. By growing trees, we are able to help wildlife and ecosystems thrive.

Increasing the supply of timber

When it comes to the commercial purposes, afforestation is developed by companies to grow trees and improve the production of charcoal and timber. Furthermore, afforestation also constitutes more job opportunities. It also helps local businesses to increase the supply of its products while also benefiting the local economy.

Solving the climate change problem

More trees mean more photosynthesis. They play a pretty important role when it comes to decreasing the greenhouse effects. We all know that greenhouse gases represent a contributing factor that triggers climate change all around the globe.

Preventing soil erosion

The roots of the trees play a significant role part in binding the soil together. In this way, it prevents the process of soil erosion or desertification. This can cause many areas to turn into dry wastelands.

Summing up

Afforestation can help us cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and, thus, diminishing the effects of climate change. As a commercial purpose, it improves the production of several species of trees which can be used in the wood industry. Furthermore, companies which develop this process offer numerous job opportunities. Afforestation also provides appropriate habitats for native animals, protecting them and offering them more food sources.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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