The trees play a critical role in the well-being of our planet Earth, and it is hard to imagine them disappear. Unfortunately, we live in an era when forests are mercilessly cut down and destroyed. But what will happen to our planet, if all trees become extinct? It is necessary to understand the exact role the forests play and what are they to answer this question.
First of all, the forest is an ecosystem. It mostly consists of trees but is not limited to them, which makes it a complex system. Besides trees, there are a lot of other plants in the forest, and each plant plays its role in maintaining the balance. Moreover, there is a significant number of other living creatures in the wood like animals, fungi, bacterias, etc. All these creatures are dependent on each other.
What role do the trees play in the forest ecosystem? Firstly, they clean the air. Oxygen releases as a by-product during the process called photosynthesis. To understand how much oxygen is produced by a single tree, it is necessary to recall the general knowledge of chemistry. In the process of photosynthesis, there are six molecules of CO2 which are used to produce one glucose molecule. Consequently, the tree receives six atoms of carbon and six oxygen molecules. An average tree by growing 5 percent each year produces about 100 kg of wood, 38 kg of which is carbon. Given the difference in mass between carbon and oxygen, it appears that an average tree produces about 80 kg of oxygen every year.
This is not about the oxygen that we breathe. The oxygen which is produced by trees is used to maintain the dynamic within the ecosystem. Here we speak about forest inhabitants, which breathe the oxygen. For them, the oxygen is vitally important (as for all aerobic living creatures, including trees), because it supports metabolic processes in the organism. Moreover, this oxygen is used in the putrefaction process. Thus, it plays an important role in the energy cycle. But what is most important is that it helps to avoid the greenhouse effect. With the destruction of green areas, the biological cycle of several chemical elements, including carbon, which enters the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, is accelerated.
The first thing that will happen if all trees disappear is an enormous climate change.
Secondly, about 70% of all species of living organisms live in forests, so the forests support biological diversity. According to the Convention on biological diversity, which was adopted in 1992, “the biological diversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.
Why should we preserve biodiversity? From a scientific point of view, there are a lot of organisms that are not sufficiently examined or are not examined at all. Pure pragmatically, they may have useful properties for people (a large number of medicinal products were obtained from plants), not to mention the fact that every organism is unique and precious. Moreover, each species may play a significant role in the evolutionary process.
The second thing that will happen by having forests lost, is the huge extinction of the species of living organisms.
Forest plays an important role in the regulation of temperature. It has an impact on the distribution of rainfall. In the summertime, some part of rainfalls remains on the leaves, thereby the moisture is accumulated and the forest ecosystem is being protected from the drought. In winter, especially in snowy regions, the trees protect the snow from melting, thereby maintain the level of groundwater.
If we lose the trees, the rainfalls will be unequally distributed in the soil, which could lead to excessive dry spell or vice versa — to excessive humidity. Thereby, the soil will lose its useful properties, the balance of minerals in the soil will be disrupted and most plants will be lost.
The third thing that will happen if we lost our trees — excessively low yields.
These are just the most evident problems that will appear after the extinction of the trees. The forest is a natural barrier — it keeps the air and water clean by absorbing the chemical and atmospheric pollution, it protects its inhabitants from cold and heat by maintaining the temperature balance, it keeps the planet in balance.
But the forests are dying. From the beginning of the planet’s history, the general area of forests has been reduced by half, mostly because of human activity. If we want to preserve our forests, we should follow some simple rules.
- Plant the forests in the territories, where the deforestation is very intensive.
- The trees may be cut down, but with the preservation of the natural capacity of revitalization.
- Most important, the forest governance should be sustainable.
By preserving the forests we preserve our planet.