Regenerative Livestyle Blog

Sharing my regeneration journey, enjoying living in harmony with nature

Trees trees trees

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My favourite activity is to walk in a forest. I enjoy the softness of the forest floor, the smells, the noises, the atmosphere and hearing and spotting birds. It calms, regenerates and grounds me. But ever since I was a kid, I have always heard that forests are destroyed. When I check on the Internet to find how quickly, it is worse than I could imagine: 33 soccer fields per minute, as calculated in 1999 in a  FAO Study! It is estimated that only between 20 and 30% of the native forests remain worldwide. In New Zealand, Te Ara Encyclopedia states that 80% ot the New Zealand islands was covered in forests before human settlement. In 1997, natural forest covered just 24% of the land area, and planted forest covers 5% of land area, the FAO reports.

2011 was the International Year of forests to say loudly and clearly that it’s more than time to stop the destruction and start regenerating them. Why and how is summarised below.
Feel free to leave a comment to add or discuss a point.

Role and importance of forests

    • Forest ecosystems act as a sink of carbon. A fifth of greenhouse gases come from forest destruction was calculated in the  FAO Study .
    • Forests are vital in rain and water regulation. Trees are water column, and attract and retain water and humidity thus regulating water cycle. Haikai Tane from  the Living Water Foundation says for example “in Twizel, our two met stations during the hydro project days 1970-1985 recorded atmospheric humidity below 50% (MOSTLY 20-40%). Now with the arboreta of trees maturing, Twizel’s humidity rarely falls below 60% now… it’s a micro-meso-meteorological process… storing and recycling moisture through ecosystem performance...
    • They are hugely important ecosystems for biodiversity: they are the habitats of 2/3 of land animals. Vitally important for plants too which provide us for food and cure.
    • They usually have a high degree of endemism: in New Zealand for example, more than 80% of the approx 2300 native species in NZ forests occur nowhere else in the world (1), meaning that if we let them being destroyed, we loose these species and their genetic qualities all together.
    • When healthy, forests are an incredible resource for people who live near them (food, refuge, medicine, materials, firewood) and love them too.

Why are they destroyed?

  • For timber, sometimes just a few valuable trunks are taken (example the kauri in NZ), some is used for charcoal and wood chipping
  • For making space for farmland, particularly cattle farming and other exportation crops
  • Also burnt for hunting (example: the moa in NZ).
  • For mining and other uses. Here in the South Island forests were burnt to allow access for gold mining. Still today in many places forests are heavily damaged for mining and transport, oil rigging and dams. Example: open-cast mining in Denniston Plateau
  • For human settlements as we do not like to feel enclosed or they hide the view… and more and more humans need space.
  • Or they menace to change the landscape. That’s what happening currently in New Zealand with this wilding pine control frenzy!   They invade the pasture land, which is not natural in the first place… This is very controversial, sorry, and does not refer to the native forest indeed. But they grow so well, they would still be a useful resource (firewood… How much firewood do you use each year? Is it actually replaced by plantations?) and would help catch much needed rain too…

How can we stop it?

Support groups who protect them, for example:

Buy carefully:

    • paper with FSC label ,
    • wood products made from non exotic woods,
    • local or organic fair trade foods will ensure they have not been extracted from forests (unlike palm oil based food for example)

Campaign locally and globally (Avaaz, Greenpeace, for example) to protect forests.

And go and enjoy them, if National Parks are utilised, then they will not be as easily dismissed and nibbled. In some countries, eco-tourism is essential to keep National Parks doing their conservation work (example in Kenya).

Tree plantingAnd we can be restorative

Read the moving novella The Man who planted trees, by Jean Giono translated by Peter Doyle

The power of reforestation is fascinating. Wildlife comes back (example  QEII ), nature becomes abundant again. Watch for example this Oasis en tous lieux experience in Mali   or this amazing, complex and successful project of recreating rainforest  in Borneo, by biologist Willie Smits.

And locally, we can volunteer at Te Kakano nursery every Tuesday and Wednesday and there are Saturday planting days too. It is wonderful that a few passionate people managed to create a movement that allows us to regenerate native bush in our area. Thank you!

Or we can learn how to Grow Seedlings from the Wild and do it in our backyard.

Every tree counts and many trees recreate a forest…


(1) New Zealand’s native trees, by John Dawson and Rob Lucas, Nelson: Craig Potton, 2011

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