Forests are incredibly important for the planet—and it’s not just because they are home to lots of plants and animals. They also play a big role in the fight against climate change!
Before we go any further, here are the climate change basics:
- Climate change is happening because humans are releasing too much carbon dioxide (CO₂) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise.
- Forests soak up CO₂ as they grow, helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases floating around. If a forest absorbs more CO₂ from the atmosphere than it releases, it is called a “carbon sink”
Canada’s fantastic forests
Did you know Canada is home to about 9% of the world’s forests? Now that’s a lot of trees! Take for example the boreal forest, which stretches from British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland, and the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast, home to grizzlies and spirit bears.
And then there’s the Ontario Greenbelt—a stretch of over 2 million acres of protected forests, wetlands, urban river valleys, and farmlands that was created in 2005 to help preserve important greenspaces around the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area. This area is home to cities like Hamilton and Toronto, as well as Durham, York, Peel, and Niagara Regions, and it’s estimated that over 13 million people will live there by 2041. The Greenbelt makes sure that there will be plenty of greenspace for everyone to enjoy, and that this important carbon sink keeps climate change in check around an area full of people and cars— in fact, the trees of the Greenbelt offset over 71 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, which is equal to offsetting the impacts of over 56.5 million cars annually!
Besides this, the forests of the Ontario Greenbelt:
- Limit the growth of smog-producing cities and traffic
- Help keep the temperature down in our warming climate, thanks to their tree cover
It’s up to us to keep our forests healthy!
Planting seeds and seedlings is something we can all do to make a difference and keep Canada teeming with trees. Unfortunately, trees do not live forever, but by helping to continually renew the forests with new trees, we are contributing to that carbon sink. This is why foresters hold a very important job of determining which forests to renew, while ensuring that there is enough habitat types for lots of different animals left behind and communities near these forests to enjoy but still getting enough for the products we need, like lumber to help build homes, along with face masks and toilet paper. On top of that, for every tree that’s harvested, the forestry industry plants at least one to replace it. Did you know that the forest sector plants over 1,000 trees every minute? That’s a lot of trees!
Forest management helps us create the right balance between the amount of trees we take and the amount we re-grow, while ensuring animals and humans can enjoy them into the future – making sure that Canada’ forests remain strong carbon sinks for the fight against climate change.
You can help do your part by planting a tree today! Accept the Just 1 Tree Mission in the Earth Rangers App to get started!