Woods and forests are in danger and need to be protected, preserved and managed sustainably. Yet the relationship between humans and trees is paradoxical.
On one hand, the trend of turning vast tracts of land into monoculture production is a massive contributor to deforestation. Burning old-growth forests down releases tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the layers of peat that are exposed to sunlight once the trees are cut down also release the CO2 they contain. And on top of this environmental catastrophe, both indigenous peoples and wildlife are losing their homes, accelerating the decline of global biodiversity.
On the other, wild vegetation is progessively invading areas that people once managed and cultivated. This invasion is a direct consequence of the depopulation of the mountains and other marginalized areas, resulting in hydrogeological instability and the loss of grazing lands, as well as knowledge, traditions and products.
Adopting a sustainable approach to protecting and managing our forests is an urgent imperative, one that can be met by restoring damaged forests, promoting traditional wood-processing systems, encouraging people to move back to the mountains, and recovering traditional agricultural landscapes, pastures and crops, all of which can be of great value to tourism.
Cover image: Niko Photos / Unsplash
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