Forests are beautiful, are home to diverse wildlife, and play an important role when it comes to caring for the world we live in.
Like their appearance, the benefits of forests are manifold.
According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), forests “provide water, provide livelihoods, mitigate climate change and are essential for sustainable food production. “.
But all is not well. The State of the World’s Forests 2020 report states that both forest degradation and deforestation “continue to occur at alarming rates.”
And while the FAO says the rate of deforestation has actually declined over the past three decades, it also notes that around 420 million hectares “have been lost through conversion to other land uses” since 1990.
In this context, several organizations are trying to promote sustainable forest management.
These include Reforest’Action, a social enterprise focused on the preservation, restoration and creation of forests.
Stéphane Hallaire is the president and founder of Reforest’Action. On a site in Neauphlette, west of Paris, he explained to CNBC “Sustainable Energy” how his company had worked the surrounding landscape to create a varied environment.
“This forest was once a poplar forest, a damaged forest,” he said. “So what we did, four years ago, was we removed trees and we planted a diverse forest made of oaks… but also chestnut… and wild cherry trees.”
“They create a diverse forest and disease, storms, forest fires, progress slowly in a diverse forest as opposed to a more ‘unique” forest.
Hallaire was then asked about the threats forests face today. “There are different types of threats to forests depending on where you are,” he said.
“If you are in the tropics, deforestation is the biggest threat today,” he added. “But if you are in temperate forests, like in Europe or France, then there is no more deforestation but the forests are degraded because of climate change.” The examples he gave included more frequent and violent storms, diseases and insects.
The conversation turned to Afforestt’s work, an Indian organization that tries to make cities green with a technique that uses high density planting.
A for-profit social enterprise created in 2011 by former Toyota Engineer Shubhendu Sharma, Afforestt uses the Miyawaki technique, named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki.
Simply put, it is a methodology that emphasizes the importance of high density planting and native species.
Afforestt combines the Miyawaki technique with something called Heijunka, a system used by companies to reduce waste and increase efficiency.
Hallaire, of Reforest’Action, called urban forestry “very important” and added that his company “had done it several times in France and in Europe”.
He continued by citing the example of his organization of planting an urban forest in the French capital of Paris.
“It was an area (of) 700 square meters … and all the people living around the place got together, families, children and parents to plant the trees.”
Considering the benefits of forests, one might be tempted to encourage their growth in all regions of the world.
It is not that simple, however. When asked where forests were needed, Hallaire insisted that they were not needed “in all parts of the world because in some places forests don’t grow, they don’t exist” .
“But forests are needed in most places, and especially in the tropics,” he added.