We know how critical forests are to life on Earth, yet, at large, our actions often don’t reflect that. Industries destroy forests constantly for their lumber and companies constantly clear land to make room for construction and agriculture.
It makes sense to treat trees as an easily renewable resource, but unfortunately, it is much harder to renew a true forest.
Unperturbed forests consist of a wide array of plants, trees, and animals of different species and ages, and if handled irresponsibly, this diverse balance can easily fall out of place.
Deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon and Australia have made it clear that we need better forest management. As we approach a critical tipping point, the time to act truly is now.
Here’s what you need to know about deforestation tipping points and how forest management can play a role in making sure we don’t lose our coveted biodiversity.
Forest Tipping Points
Several countries have strict laws governing how forests can be treated by industry. These laws set a strict precedent on how to replant and renew wildlife in order to maintain balance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The Amazon Rainforest, in particular, has lost 24,000 square miles over the past year due to environmentally regressive policy. It is estimated that 20% of the original forest has been cleared since 1970, meaning it is approaching a “tipping point”.
A recent study from the University of Cincinnati explained the concept of forest tipping points.
A team of ecologists and geographers surveyed every square mile of the Earth digitally year by year in order to understand the progression of deforestation.
Researchers divided the world into small “blocks” of land and studied how the blocks changed individually over time. The complex study uncovered a simple truth.
They found that “deforestation occurs comparatively slowly … until about half of the forest is gone. Then the remaining forest disappears very quickly.”
This is because wildlife wants to be one uniform biome, and as ecosystems fragment, it becomes harder to continue.
Wildfires and the Amazon Rainforest’s Tipping Point
Understanding how deforestation impacts the environment can allow us to set preventative measures.
Politicians must understand the concept of deforestation tipping points and integrate it into political action.
Scientists have concluded that the Amazon Rainforest is dangerously close to its tipping point.
Carlos Nobre of Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo and Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University recently proclaimed that:
“Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.” — Carlos Nobre And Thomas Lovejoy, Science Advances
In fact, the entire world is approaching its tipping point.
The same University of Cincinnati researchers discovered in an earlier study that “22 percent of the Earth’s habitable surface has been altered in measurable ways, primarily from forest to agriculture, between 1992 and 2015.”
Forests have shrunk, and so have the ice caps, and reefs. The rate of destruction of these delicate biomes has increased exponentially and will likely continue to do so.
The outlook does look bleak but it is certainly not hopeless.
The Importance of Forest Management
On the other hand, reefs and forests have benefited greatly from technological advancement and active management.
Recently, researchers discovered that underwater speakers, among other measures, could counteract reef decay.
The solution is less clear for forests, but active forest management can certainly make a difference.
It may seem rather unremarkable, but forest management is an incredibly effective tool.
Forest Management Could Have Been Beneficial to California and Australia
The increased occurrence of wildfires in areas like California and Australia directly correlates with a decrease in preventative forest management.
Controlled burns generally prevent a larger wildfire from occurring, and Australia had drastically cut the number of controlled burns it performs prior to the wildfire crisis.
California suffers from a similar problem and has elected to pursue preventative measures, specifically forest thinning, in order to create more stable forests.
Currently, the privately-owned Forest Resilience Board can be contracted to manage healthy forests, and a government-wide forest management board could certainly help states like California and countries like Australia.
We Need To Vote Leaders Out If They Won’t Help With Forest Management
Unfortunately, the management of biomes cannot make a significant difference as long as politicians have no interest in the solutions.
Citizens are becoming more and more aware of climate issues and this has been reflected in voter priorities.
As our environment reaches a tipping point, we need to elect politicians who want to make a difference.
Only through doing so can we must pass the laws and preventative management necessary to ensure the usage of the Earth’s resources is sustainable for the years to come.