More than 80 percent of the forests that originally covered the Earth have been lost or degraded. Between 1980 and 1990 alone, the Latin American region lost 62 million hectares (6.0 percent) of its natural forest, which was the largest loss in the world during those years, with a further 5.8 million hectares a year lost between 1990 and 1995. Despite efforts to reverse this trend, deforestation continues at an alarming rate each year, particularly in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and the Pacific. (Source: UNEP)
So why are trees important? It’s no secret that trees help the environment, but you may be surprised by all the benefits that planting a tree can provide.
From an environmental perspective, trees are vital to many processes that make life on Earth possible.
According the United Nations Environmental Programme, trees are fundamental elements of various natural systems. They conserve soil and water, control avalanches, prevent desertification, protect coastal areas and stabilize sand dunes. Forests house nearly 90 percent of terrestrial life and are vital centers of biological biodiversity on land. (Source: UNEP Billion Tree Planting Campaign)
People around the world depend on trees for their livelihood. Nearly three hundred million people live in forests and rely on trees for fuel wood, medicine and food. Another 1.6 billion people depend on trees and forests for subsistence and income. (Source: FAO)
In addition, trees are vital to agricultural productivity. Trees not only help to improve soil quality, but also attract animals that are essential for pollination, seed dispersal, and germination. (Source: World Agroforestry Centre)
Forestry-related industries generated nearly US$500 billion in 2006. An additional US$189 billion was produced through the global trade of primary wood products. (Source: FAO)
Green economies increasingly focus on agroforestry, an approach that integrates trees into farming systems for more sustainable land use, and other methods of sustainable economic activities.