“Mother nature is very generous but unforgiving. If you destroy nature, if you don’t obey the rules of nature, nature will destroy you.” the late Prof. Wangari Mathai, Nobel Prize winning environmentalist.
True to each of these words, nature is everything. Nature is life. It is defined as the natural, physical or material universe. In essence, without nature there is no life.
It is therefore vital and necessary to protect and conserve nature. If not for anything else, to keep everything alive (from human beings to safari ants) from going extinct. One very core component of nature that we have absolute control over is forests. A forest is basically a whole multitude of trees standing side by side. An even better definition of a forest is a single tree, a million times. Yes. It all starts with a single tree.
Currently, approximately 4 Billion hectares of the earth’s surface is covered in forests. The largest forest expanse is The Amazon which spreads across nine South American countries, covering well over 2.2 million square miles. Why do we need forests, you may ask?
Forest Vegetation Cover
Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of the earth. They account for 75% of the gross primary production of the Earth’s biosphere. They contain 80% of the Earth’s plant biomass. They are the sole breadwinner of the very important ozone layer. The ozone is entirely made up of oxygen molecules. This oxygen comes from the trees, thickens up the ozone layer and prevents harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun from reaching the Earth’s surface. You know what happens when the rays of the sun get express access to the earth’s surface? Global warming. And oh, don’t get me started on it. Summarily, the services that forests render the human kind cannot be exhausted.
Now, the globally recommended forest cover in a country is a minimum of 10%. Here in Kenya, only 1.7% of land is covered in forests. This is a critical UCU condition that requires urgent resuscitation. We are basically on life support. It is an emergency. Food, water, oxygen are diminishing by the day. Things a human being can hardly survive without. Lives have been lost. Starvation, thirst, asthma. For every one tree that’s cut down without being replaced, a human life is endangered.
Civilization is a good thing that has really threatened and hurt many forests. Encroachments to create land for infrastructure has especially led to massive deforestation. Forest fires are also not helping matters. The Mau complex, which is the largest indigenous montain forest in East Africa, suffered a rather significant setback in recent years thanks to a forest fire.
So, what do we do?
The government in partnership with environmental organisations have made efforts to encourage reforestation in the country. Creating awareness, setting apart tree planting days and putting in place penalties for people who go about cutting trees aimlessly are some of the ways reforestation is being implemented.
However, like stated above, it all starts with a single tree. In the same spirit, it starts with just one person. You. Plant a tree today. Who knows? That single tree could birth a whole forest in half a decade. That forest could take the coverage up by 1%. Stand up and make a difference. Let us be nice to Mother nature lest she destroys us.
Plant a tree today!!