Imagine a spectacular, dreamlike forest full of majestic trees. Well, chances are, it’s that spectacular because someone has been there before with one or several chainsaws (Translated from Spanish by Alissa D’Vale)
You may be surprised by what you just read. In our collective imagination we have a series of completely false ideas about forests. A series of hoaxes that should be banished from our heads as soon as possible in order to promote proper forest management. Or what can also be called planetary sustainability. Here we highlight a few:
1.The human hand must not touch the forests
The primary, original forest, symbol of the earthly paradise, does not exist. In Europe, for example, only 0.7% of forests are primary, that is, they have not been touched. In America that figure rises to 20%. In other words, between 80 and 99% of forests are not natural, but cultural. Its state of conservation depends, therefore, on the type of intervention that is carried out, but not on whether there was one or not. The only exception is tropical forests, where we do find 50% or more virgin forests.
2.Cutting down trees is bad
A tree can burn in a fire, rot, or be used for human consumption. Sustainable forest management mimics natural forest dynamics to take advantage of trees that would otherwise rot or burn to the detriment of the ecosystem itself. In addition, we obtain construction or energy materials with a zero environmental footprint (unlike those derived from oil, steel, and non-renewable energy) or even positive landscape heterogeneity is created, which increases biodiversity.
3. The greener and the more trees, the more natural and of the higher quality it is
The truth is that we are suffering from an epidemic of trees. The causes differ between countries, but the forest area has increased, and very considerably, globally in recent decades. This has repercussions in an excess of vegetal load in the landscape and the consequent increase of risk of mega forest fires. Tropical forests are again out of the global trend, they are suffering significant losses of forest area.
4. Eucalyptus trees favor fires
The influence of the expansion of eucalyptus plantations in recent large fires, such as those of Chile and Portugal in 2017, has been questioned. But the truth is that there is no scientific evidence linking the expansion of eucalyptus to the fires. For example, in Portugal, where eucalyptus trees occupy 26% of the forest area, the type of vegetation that is least likely to start a large forest fire is precisely the eucalyptus, due to the sustainable management to which they are subjected.
5. Fire destroys forests
Forest fires are natural in the vast majority of forests and bushes. With the exception of the tropics, the rest of the American and European vegetation is adapted and even needs fire for its regeneration. Now we consider fire as the great enemy when it has been a useful tool and we must not forget.
6. The forests are dirty
The bushes and grasses are not dirt, but part of the richness of our forests. The risk of a large fire does not result from brushes or grass (See Arsonists are not the cause of large forest fires). The forest is only dirty with the unethical litters.
7. It is necessary to increase the area of natural reserves to protect species
The majority of species are not found in national parks. In general, it is enough to carry out small measures of alteration of the forest management to help vulnerable species, adapted to the reality of each case. In addition, when the protected area increases in rich countries, the importation of wood from less developed countries with forest laws that in many cases are more relaxed is favored. In other words, ecological damage in third countries increases with the protection of forests in rich countries.
8.The solution is to stop using paper
“Before printing this mail, think about whether it is really necessary.” This tagline that is read in many messages is undoubtedly there with the best of intentions. But let’s face it: we even need paper to go to the bathroom. The question is not whether to use paper or not, but to know where it comes from. Knowing this, there are mechanisms that ensure that sustainable forest management will precede, such as forest certification.
9. Repopulations are artificial forests or crops
When someone breaks their leg and, during surgery, they put irons and screws, they are still a person and do not become a cyborg. Similarly, when a forest is highly degraded and requires forest surgery in the form of restoration, the ecosystem does not become a crop, but maintains its condition as a forest. Important reforestation programs have been carried out in Chile, Argentina, Spain, and other countries. After a few decades, we see how up to 80% of the coverage in some protected areas comes from repopulated pine forests.
Currently, one of the objectives of this restoration tool is to include the conservation and improvement of biodiversity, introducing local species and varieties, not only trees, but also shrubs and other companions.
10. An ecologist always protect the cause
Ramón Margalef, the father of ecological science in Spain, used to say that “environmentalism is to ecology what socialism is to sociology.” Science should be used as a sieve to filter what are facts from the evidence and logic of what is ideology or personal bias. Well-intentioned actions can have catastrophic consequences when they have not been properly screened. Preventing sustainable tree cuttings, for example, can increase fossil fuel consumption and the risk of forest fires.
We men appeared on Earth two and a half million years ago. We have become an important component of its ecological dynamics, whether we like it or not. We are part of nature and not something alien to it. We can choose between managing the cause or abandoning it to its fate. In other words, the increasingly recurrent and severe disturbances (fires, droughts, plagues...) will be responsible for restructuring those ecosystems that we do not manage in an orderly and sustainable manner. It is true that nature does not need us, but we do need her.
This article was originally published on The Conversation and in http://www.ipsnoticias.net/2021/03/diez-bulos-los-bosques-lastran-futuro-del-planeta/