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Forest Reading Comprehension, Case Study Example

Pages: 7

Words: 2007

Case Study

Humans have, over the years, directly and indirectly, impacted the environment causing adverse changes to the natural resources, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Their modification of the environment through actions like agriculture, use of fossil fuels, and overpopulation to fit societal needs has resulted in severe damage and degradation to the environment. Even Monbiot (6) notes that human activities have a stake in environmental degradation when he asserts that “…grazed and cleared for thousands of years, infertile, naturally acid and further acidified by pollution from power stations…” Forests are one area that have been severely affected by this aspect. For instance, humans have exploited forests for urban and agricultural uses. Additionally, forests’ demographic structures have overly changed. However, in some areas, individuals have made significant efforts to enhance the health, productivity, and array of life of forests to bring back the degraded ones. Such forests include the Cambrian desert in Wales, Verdun in France, and the Sahel in Africa. Restoration of forests and trees in barren places has numerous benefits.

Impact of Humans on the Natural World

Human activity has had an impact on the environment since time immemorial. One of the main negative impacts is climate change. Heertsgaard (14) notes that “the droughts of the 1980s marked the beginning of climate change, and he may be right: scientists were still analyzing when man-made climate change began, some dating its onset to the mid-twentieth century. In any case, Sawadogo said he had been adapting to a hotter, drier climate for twenty years now.” These impacts may be reversed by allowing trees to return. Industrialization, agriculture, and domestication of animals are among the main human activities that have negatively affected the natural world. They are facilitated by the need to feed a growing human population. To create more space for these activities, more trees and forests were cleared, leading to deforestation, which has numerous devastating effects like decreased oxygen levels, destruction of animal habitats, and increased risks of soil erosion. However, increased reforestation could help curb these catastrophic impacts.

Benefits of Trees and Forests Restoration

Climate Change Mitigation

One of the main drivers of global warming is excessive carbon release. Heertsgaard’s article, African Farmers Beat Back Drought and Climate Change with Trees, depicts that planting trees effectively combat climate change. “Reforestation can effectively combat climate change by affecting the carbon cycle, which removes excess carbon in the atmosphere. Trees provide a natural defense through pulling carbon out of the air through the photosynthesis process and storing it under the soil, plant matter, and wood. Carbon is the most critical greenhouse gas driving climate change; hence removing it from the atmosphere is vital. Reforestation is an enticing strategy to combat this climate change because much expensive technology is not required. Careful forest management is, thus, an essential strategy to help address global warming now and in the future.

Improving Air Quality

Trees can clean the air by absorbing gaseous pollutants and airborne particles like ammonia and sulfur dioxide through the leaves, roots, and barks. It helps enhance the air quality in the microclimate, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment. This aspect is especially essential in the wake of increased industrial activities across the globe, which produce excess gas. For instance, by absorbing excess carbon dioxide, the greenhouse effect is reduced, creating a less polluted, sustainable planet for current and future generations. It is vital to note that some tree types are markedly more effective in filtration of pollutants from the air compared to others. Hence, during reforestation, such aspects should be considered.

Enhancing Yields

Hertsgaard (14), in his article, narrates how an African farmer, through the tree-based approach to farming, has enhanced both the yields and transformed the deforested lands through the growth of trees simultaneously. He notes, “As one growing season followed another, it became apparent that the trees— now a few feet high—were further increasing his yields of millet and sorghum while also restoring the degraded soil’s vitality.” Sawadogo narrates how due to climate change, their lands were impacted by drought, leading to numerous deaths and migrations. However, the situation has significantly changed due to the growth of trees.

Enhancing Biodiversity

Reforestation is an effective tool to reverse and reduce the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity regards the range of life forms and species existing in a certain ecosystem. Forest ecosystems have varying degrees of biodiversity depending on the ability to support diverse species. It is the key to a resilient society as it enhances food security, maintains the fertility of soils, and controls pest and disease outbreaks. I agree with Filippucci (11), who established that planting and maintenance of forests are essential to protect biodiversity. Hence, reforestation is vital to combat climate change, which destroys biodiversity. Forest ecosystems’ diversity is affected when species are unable to adapt vastly to climate and land changes. Increasing forested land through planting trees enhances the support of bio-diverse ecosystems. Additionally, natural forest regeneration can also be improved. Regeneration regards allowing already-existing habitats and forests to regenerate naturally. Filippucci (11) through noting that “Over the past century the physical fabric of the former battlefield has continued to evolve…the forest, have developed unusual biodiversity for this part of Europe. This is in part a direct result of mass destruction in 1914-18 that stopped cultivation and thus pollution by modern chemical fertilisers; and in part because the decaying remnants of the battlefield provide ideal habitats for certain rare species of animals and plants: the lime-rich mineralised slopes of forts for rare orchids, shell holes where water stagnates for rare amphibians, and concrete dugouts and other structures for bats,” asserts that curbing of human activities in the areas where reforestation is intended is critical. Hence, there is a need to establish laws in such places that curb any human activity in such lands. Restoration and maintenance of biodiversity are vital for sustainability for the benefit of current and future populations.

Prevention of Soil Erosion

Soil is among the most valuable resources on the planet. It is vital for purposes like food production, habitation, reserving water, and carbon storage. With increased deforestation, topsoil is increasingly becoming an endangered resource. However, this problem can be curbed through trees and forest restoration, which have a vital role in the prevention of soil erosion. Trees and forests prevent soil erosion by intercepting rainfall to curb splash erosion, reducing the amount of water in the soil through transpiration, binding the soil to the sloping ground using the roots, and breaking the wind that blows away soil. Monbiot (5) noted that “The clearing and burning and grazing stripped the fertility of the soil, encouraging heather—which thrives on poor land—to grow.” It was an indication that restoring trees and forests on barren lands is not only critical for soil erosion but also for creation. This point was also supported by Hertsgaard (15), who notes that “With trees to buffer the wind and anchor the soil, farmers need sow only once. Leaves serve other purposes. After they fall to the ground, they act as mulch, boosting soil fertility.” This aspect can be achieved through weathering parent rock materials where soil derives its character and decomposition of organic matter. Soil fertility and health are also enhanced through this action. The trees’ roots improve the capacity and ability of soil to absorb water, curbing the risk of wind erosion. Moderation of soil temperature is achieved through the shade created by trees, an aspect that helps retain fertility.

Improving Water Quality

Water is another vital resource needed for survival. Humans, trees, and animals equally require water for existence. Trees help enhance water quality by slowing rain as it falls on the earth, and allowing it to soak into the soil. Trees act as natural sponges by collecting and filtering rainfall and slowly releasing it into rivers. Additionally, by preventing soil erosion, waterways and reservoirs are protected.

Restoration of Forests in Deforested Areas

Filippucci (9), in his piece ‘These Battered Hills’: Landscape and Memory at Verdun (France), gives a clear picture of what deforested lands impacted by human activity look like and their effects. “…while vegetation was wiped out and the very soils were damaged, mineralised or ploughed down to bedrock and heavily polluted by organic and inorganic chemicals from degrading military matériel [supplies and equipment] and human and animal remains…” Filippucci shows that there is a need to restore such deforested lands. Restoring forests entails returning trees to forestlands and enhancing the situation of degraded forests. Today, the paradigm of conservation is the strife to ensure as much natural habitat as possible is conserved. Multiple restoration methods, including tree planting, agroforestry, and seed collection, are being widely employed. Hertsgaard (14) notes, “a Dutch environmental specialist at VU University Amsterdam who has worked on agricultural issues in the Sahel for thirty years, and other scientists who have studied the technique say that mixing trees and crops—a practice they have named “farmer-managed natural regeneration,” or FMNR, and that is known generally as agroforestry—brings a range of benefits. The trees’ shade and bulk offer crops relief from the overwhelming heat and gusting winds.” In the areas that have been deforested, it would be beneficial to restore the forests for numerous reasons. First, restoration is an opportunity to give back to the Earth and reverse the destruction that has already occurred over the years. It is essential to meet the climate and biodiversity goals that have been widely embraced. Second, this restoration will safeguard the enormous wildlife, climate, and human benefits that forests provide. For instance, it can deliver substantial social and economic benefits through increased forest products, food and water security, and human health.

Third, it will promote the achievement of sustainable development goals. One of the goals is to combat climate change. As mentioned earlier, forests are critical in the removal of excess carbon from the atmosphere. Additionally, they aid in regulating freshwater supply, which is vital for agricultural purposes and maintenance of the health of individuals in those areas. Another sustainable development goal is ensuring human health and well-being. Restoring forests can help combat hazardous pandemics caused by zoonotic diseases. It can be achieved by reducing the incidence of contact between humans and animals by enhancing forest areas. As Monboit (5) established, forest restoration is critical to maintaining soil quality. Hence, restoring forests in deforested areas will help the humans living in the areas to thrive economically as high-quality land will be available for agricultural purposes. Fourth, forest restoration will be vital to provide habitat for rare species of animals and plants (Filippucci 11). Hence, it is a practice that should be promptly adopted.

Differences between the Articles

In his article, George Monbiot tries to give the readers an insight that human activity has a significant impact on the life of forests. He explains how the simple practice of fencing out sheep with the aim of protecting young trees has helped the growth of a forest. Filipucci again emphasizes how human activity in the past contributed to the deforestation of numerous forests. He explains that after a war, the deforested and destroyed land was emigrated from. This outlook gave room for more trees to develop, leading to the looming of a beautiful forest that habituated extinct species of animals. Hertsgaard introduces the concept of agroforestry, which has also helped reforestation in Africa. Agroforestry entails simultaneously growing crops and trees on the same land. This method has effectively solved deforestation and, subsequently, the hunger issue through increasing yields.

Works Cited

 Filippucci, Paola. “‘These Battered Hills’: Landscape and Memory at Verdun.” Places of Memory. Ed. Christian Horn, Gustav Wollentz, Gianpiero Di Maida, and Annette Haug. Archaeopress, 2020.

Hertsgaard, Mark. “African Farmers Beat Back Drought and Climate Change with Trees” Scientific American. January 28, 2011. Excerpt from Hot: Living Through the Next 50 Years on Earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.

Montbiot, George. “Greening the Desert.” Feral. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Chapter 6.

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