Trees 🌲🌳🍁 are in many ways the rulers and protectors of the world. Like the Ents from The Lord of the Rings. Out of all the biomass on earth, which is about 600 Gt, 450-500 Gt is in forests. There are no organisms as massive as trees. And there is no larger carbon storage or sink. Trees contain about 80% of plant biomass, or phytomass. Net primary production means how much carbon plants bind in photosynthesis when producing sugar and biomass. Global net primary production in terrestrial ecosystems is around 60-70 Gt per year. This amount of carbon is bind to forests and fields and other terrestrial ecosystems, while the seas bind about 5-10 Gt because their biomass is much smaller and consists mainly of algae. Bogs, when forming peat, are also a significant carbon sink, but not nearly as good as forests.
In a rainforest, the npp (net basic production) can be up to 2-3 kg per square meter. This means that in a square meter of rainforest, new plant mass grows to the extent of 2-3 kg of carbon per year. The total weight of the growing plant mass is about 5 kg. In warmer and rainier areas, plants have much more solar radiation energy and water at their disposal and therefore produce much more biomass. Photosynthesis is based on light. Since the sun is directly overhead in the tropics, a square meter area collects much more light energy than in northern regions. Heat also speeds up production. The northern coniferous forest produces on average about 0.4-1 kg of phytomass per square meter, the deciduous forest slightly more. Savanna yields are the same as deciduous forests. The carbon sink and net primary production of tropical forests are up to 3 times higher than in northern boreal coniferous forests. Tundra and desert produce only a few tens of grams on average, so their carbon sink is non-existent. From this we understand that tropical forests are the most important carbon sink and their protection is absolutely important. Tropical forests also contain most of the world's biodiversity and species. There is also more tropical forest than northern forest in area. By protecting tropical forests, we protect the world from both climate change and nature loss. It is extremely important to protect the last rainforests and other tropical forests. The locals can use the wood as much as they absolutely need to satisfy their basic needs. It is a fact that human communities still have some need for sustainably produced wood, paper, etc.
Unfortunately, deforestation affects tropical forests in particular. In South America, rainforest is cleared for steak ranches and soy feed farms, and rainforest is also cut down for garden furniture and other uses of tropical precious wood, mainly in more prosperous countries. There have been ecologically unsustainable paper mill projects in South America, e.g. Uruguay and e.g. China. Tropical hardwood is generally not suitable for making paper, and tropical forests have been replaced by fast-growing trees imported from elsewhere and their wood fields. In Africa, the biggest problem is the collection of firewood, which could be reduced with e.g. solar powered cookers and wood stoves that use heat more efficiently. In Africa, forests are also being cleared to make way for livestock farming, for example in the Sahel and Madagascar this is a big problem. In Asia, forests have already largely disappeared. There is still a lot of rain forest in Indonesia, but especially the production of palm oil for biofuels and food is destroying the forest at an unimaginable rate. With our own consumption choices, we could greatly influence the preservation of tropical forests. Do we need to ship bananas and palm oil to Finland and The UK? Tropical forests should be quickly protected and trees and forests replanted. An individual consumer can influence this too, for example by buying trees for WWF to protect the rainforest or trees for the Church's foreign aid in Africa. Half of the world's forests have already been lost, if we planted these forests again, we would remove about 500 Gt of carbon from the air, which is equivalent to more than twenty years of carbon emissions. Carbon emissions have grown exponentially, so removing emissions for more than 20 years would have a huge impact. In any case, we also need technological carbon removal from the atmosphere. For now, it is still expensive, and planting trees is a faster, cheaper and more sensible carbon sequestration. Technological carbon sequestration will become common in 20-40 years, when forests have been extensively reclaimed.
Although the most important carbon sinks are tropical forests, northern coniferous forests and swamps are also important carbon sinks. Their surface area is already gigantic, and compared to tropical forests, the NPP of one third is still large. The forests of the Mediterranean and the deciduous forests of Central Europe and others have largely disappeared, but France and Germany, for example, have more forest measured in cubic meters of wood than Finland. The reason is that there is a lot of old forest and we have mostly young forest and narrow trees. Above all, boreal coniferous forests are an important carbon store. If their carbon were released into the air, it would be equal to the carbon emissions of a decade of humanity. Northern forests have grown more slowly than tropical forests, but their biomass has grown large over the centuries. They have almost the same amount of carbon, they have just bound the same amount more slowly. The forests of Finland and Sweden are a significant carbon sink and a particularly important carbon store in the EU region. Too many forests are cut down in Finland, and Finnish forestry is now a source of carbon, according to the Finnish Natural Resources Agency. We cut down more forest than is regenerated. Most of our wood is burned and sold abroad as paper and cardboard. Only about 2 % of the wood cut in Finland is used for wood construction and carpentry products. Using wood for short-term products on this scale is ecologically and economically absurd and unprofitable. We are losing our precious forests to produce toilet paper to China. It would be easy to reduce the consumption of paper and cardboard: a large part of the paper goes to advertisements, unnecessary magazines, etc. for no reason. With digitalization, we can read e-books and magazines. Offices have often moved to paperless offices. Packaging could use more bioplastics made from agricultural by-products, such as corn leaves, and in general by reducing unnecessary packaging. Paper recycling is at the top level in Finland, but it could be developed in many other countries. However, it must be remembered that paper can only be recycled about 5 times. In the end, it's good enough for toilet paper.
The protection of Finland's forests is important not only because of climate change but also because of nature loss. In Finnish forests, up to 10% of the species are endangered. The blueberry population, i.e. their number of individuals, in Finland has halved in a couple of decades, as have many birds, such as the willow tit. Intensive forestry destroys the homes of animals and plants.
Clear-cutting kills most of the animals and plants in the forest. The rest have to look for a new living space as homeless. Clear cutting tramples the land and makes it unprotected, so that the soil is exposed to erosion caused by rain and wind. Rain and wind wipe away the soil so that the clear-cut forest is a source of carbon for 25 years. Clear-cutting disrupts the circulation of water and nutrients in the forest. Clear-cutting prevents the multiple use of forests for picking berries, picking mushrooms, camping, etc. All ecosystem services are either completely prevented or suffer. Instead of a forest rich in biodiversity, a tree field with poor diversity is usually grown, where the number of species is 10-20% of the original. Clear-cutting should be banned first in the EU and then globally and switch to a method of continuous cultivation, which is also more profitable financially. Currently, it is often more economically profitable for the forest owner to even protect the forest in the state's Metso program than to sell the forest to a forest company for felling. In Finland too, there is a lot of forest-related corruption and propaganda by the forest giants. Incorrect claims are made, such as that a felled forest is a good carbon sink or that the forest needs "care" when the word means forestry. The forest does not need, and has never needed, any kind of forestry care, but protection.
Logged forest is not a good carbon sink, middle-aged and old forest are. It is true that the derivative of the forest's carbon sink varies, i.e. the carbon sink is of different size at different ages. However, it is a lie to claim that the old forest is not a carbon sink. Old forest binds very large amounts of carbon. There, too, trees grow and old trees die and new ones are born. There will be small forest fires and storms. Leaves and branches fall, trees fall. The old forest binds carbon especially in the soil and in large quantities. The old forest is also an extremely important centuries-old carbon store. We have only remnants of old forests in Finland and they should be protected as soon as possible. They also have the most qualitatively valuable biodiversity. Swamps are also an important carbon sink and a huge carbon store in Finland. Peat extraction destroys the entire bog ecosystem and releases immense amounts of carbon into the air, which the bog has slowly sequestered from the air for millennia. The carbon emissions of peat are even greater than those of coal.
Trees are our friends, biodiversity provides the services that nature offers us, i.e. ecosystem services from medicinal plants to water circulation and maintaining climate stability. Nature supports all life and human communities. When biodiversity collapses, human communities also quickly run into problems. Trees provide us with numerous ecosystem services, they bind carbon, produce fruit and wood for use, provide nesting places for pollinators and pest-eating birds, trees shade and protect crops from the scorching sun and heavy rains, trees prevent floods, and the imduction of their leaves cleans the air of impurities and pollution particles. In agroecological arable forestry, the fields have trees, this greatly increases yields, especially in the Global South. Pollinators pollinate food plants more efficiently and birds protect them from pests. The trees rot from the weather. In Africa etc., valuable fruits are obtained along with other crops and wood for use. Many trees bind nitrogen from the air and thus fertilize farmland ecologically.
Cities often have very poor air quality. Trees effectively clean the air of air pollution. Globally, air pollution kills more than 10 million people every year. The main reason is traffic, other big reasons are factories and coal burning and the purchase of fossil energy with oil wells. For example, I have studied the air quality in Helsinki using geographic information systems and found that the air quality can be bad along a busy road, but the air quality in the park next to it can be good at the same time. Trees therefore act as the earth's lungs and protect life. In the city, trees prevent floods by equalizing the hydrological cycle and water flow. They also protect from the scorching heat by providing shade. A city where the temperature would otherwise be up to 35 degrees Celsius, can be 25 degrees in the shade of trees. Heat waves kill thousands of people every year. Urban greenery is also important in terms of comfort, hobbies, and people's mental and physical well-being and health.
The first trees appeared in the world about 300 million years ago. Since then, they have acted as guardians of the world like the Ents. Without trees, life on Earth would have remained very simple and poor in diversity. We owe a lot to trees, let's respect them and protect them. Without them there would be no us.
Ziggi, Fight This Struggle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV9yxNDF2ss