Saturday 30 November
- Reforestation usually involves replanting areas of forest which have previously been damaged or destroyed, using native tree species.
- Reforestation is of great importance, as estimates suggest that at the current rate of deforestation, there may be no rainforest left within 100 years.
- Huge areas of forest have already been lost, for example, only around eight percent of the Atlantic forest in South America now remains.
Reforestation fact file
- What is reforestation?
- Why is reforestation needed?
- The Atlantic forest - a case study
- Atlantic forest news
- Find out more
- Real science: Team WILD
What is reforestation?
Reforestation involves the replanting or regeneration of areas of forest which have previously been damaged or destroyed. Sometimes forests are able to regenerate naturally if sufficient trees remain nearby and seeds can be dispersed into the deforested areas via animals or wind. However, areas of forest which have been severely degraded are unlikely to be able to regenerate naturally and need to be replanted by hand using native tree species.
Why is reforestation needed?
Reforestation is needed because huge areas of forest are being damaged or destroyed around the world on a daily basis. Some estimates suggest that an area of forest equivalent in size to 36 football pitches is lost every minute. This deforestation has a number of causes, including fires, the clearing of land to make way for agriculture or human settlement, logging, mining and climate change.
Forests are very important for a number of reasons and deforestation is a serious problem which affects us all. As well as being home to a huge and diverse range of animal and plant species, forests provide livelihoods for a vast number of people around the world and are a source of paper, timber, food and the ingredients of many other products, such as medicines and cosmetics. Forests are also vital for the health of our planet, maintaining the water cycle, preventing soil erosion and absorbing and storing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide which helps to limit the effects of climate change.
In order to tackle deforestation there are a number of organisations around the world that aim to replant trees and help to regenerate and restore forest habitats.
The Atlantic forest – a case study
The Atlantic forest in South America is home to a wealth of wildlife, including 104 species found nowhere else on earth. Although often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, the Amazon rainforest, the Atlantic forest is actually in far greater danger and is considered one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world.
Extending along the eastern coast of Brazil into Paraguay and northeast Argentina, the Atlantic forest has suffered a huge amount of deforestation, with as much as 92 percent of the original forest having already been lost. Once thought to have covered an area of over a million square kilometres, the Atlantic forest has now been reduced to a total area of just under 100,000 square kilometres. Worryingly, what remains is severely fragmented, with many areas of forest too small and isolated to support species in the long term.
Fortunately, there are a number of conservation organisations working to protect and restore the forest here, using a variety of methods including the creation and expansion of protected areas, environmental education programmes to raise awareness, and reforestation. Reforestation is particularly helpful in terms of creating wildlife ‘corridors’, areas which can be protected and replanted to help connect isolated fragments of forest.
Organisations such as REGUA plant seedlings grown in their own nursery from the seeds of around 50 native tree species, such as the guapuruvu tree, that are collected in the local area by staff and volunteers. By the end of the 2011/12 planting season REGUA had planted over 110,000 trees. To ensure a high survival rate, the seedlings are watered in times of drought and monitored to ensure they are not damaged by leaf-cutter ants or overcome by weeds before they become established. This careful monitoring has led to a seedling survival rate of around 95 percent.
Atlantic forest news
Follow our blog to keep up-to-date with the latest news about reforestation in the Atlantic forest:
Find out more
Find out more about reforestation in the Atlantic forest:
- REGUA - Restoring the Atlantic forest
- The Nature Conservancy - Atlantic forest
- The Nature Conservancy – Plant a Billion Trees Campaign
- World Land Trust - Plant a Tree
Real science: Team WILD
Explore the real science behind Team WILD’s reforestation mission in the Atlantic forest.
Why do Root and Flora, our Team WILD science superheroes, need help replanting native guapuruvu trees in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil?
No large tropical ecosystem has suffered as much loss as the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Covering less than 10% of its original land area, this once vast ecosystem has become so degraded and fragmented due to centuries of illegal logging, urban development, cattle ranching and agriculture, that it is now considered one of the most endangered habitats on Earth.
Scientists and conservationists are working hard to protect and restore this incredibly diverse and unique forest. Ambitious reforestation projects, such as the Plant a Billion Trees campaign led by The Nature Conservancy and restoration projects by REGUA, aim to replant native trees such as the guapuruvu tree, to help rebuild the Atlantic Forest for future generations. This huge restoration effort has the potential to remove 4 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every single year.
Help Team WILD plant trees in the Atlantic forest
Play the Team WILD game
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