By Grant Stokoe

 

Trees are essential for our success as living creatures on Earth. They convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for us to breathe. They also help lower surface temperatures, create stronger soil, and regulate water flow. In their absence, almost all surrounding life is impacted in a negative way.

Deforestation is the removal of trees and other vegetation for alternative purposes, such as farming, livestock, using timber for fuel, construction, or manufacturing (“Deforestation: Facts, causes & effects”).

Many people rely on forests for employment, food, medicine, and fuel. Additionally, roughly 80% of Earth’s terrestrial species live in forests (“Deforestation: Facts, causes & effects”). More so, deforestation is a huge problem for all parties involved.

On the other hand, reforestation is the solution to this problem. Reforestation is basically replanting trees that have been lost to deforestation. Their return can greatly improve the environment’s health as well as benefiting other nearby organisms.

There are two types of reforestation: urban and rural. Urban reforestation focuses on improving air quality, providing green spaces, and lowering temperatures in areas that are generally above average. Alternatively, rural reforestation focuses on replicating the original forest habitat and by providing a stable environment for native animals (“Reforestation as an option for reversing deforestation”).

In South Africa, there is the South African Reforestation Trust that brings “landowners, institutions, companies and individuals together to plant and extend indigenous forest ecosystems” (“South African Reforestation Trust”). They have several locations where trees are planted and nurtured: The Overberg, Grootvadersbosch near Swellendam, Wilderness and the Boland (“South African Reforestation Trust”).

The South African Reforestation Trust also prevents the harvesting of indigenous trees, which is essential to the biodiversity of a given area. Far too often, indigenous species are destroyed by outside influence in the form of tourism, pests, or removal as a whole. Maintaining a conservation approach to native tree species is crucial to lay the foundation for reforestation on a national scale.

 

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