TODAY -

Rainforests are the lungs of Earth

N Munal Meitei *



June 22, World Rainforest Day is a wonderful opportunity to dive into the vibrant ecosystems of rainforests and discover the incredible diversity of life they support. As defined, rainforest are tall trees, mostly evergreen with a high amount of rainfall, many of the forests with 6 major Forest types and 10 subtypes in Manipur may be included in the category. Thus celebration of Rainforest day has its great meaning in our State also.

This year’s theme “A Global Call to Action” is to recognise the importance of Rainforests as one of the most powerful and cost effective climate change mitigation instruments and also to raise awareness of the crucial role played by these intricate ecosystems in maintaining the health of our planet and on human survival. It's a day to inspire action to preserve and rejuvenate Rainforests which we often termed as the "lungs of the Earth."

Rainforests are indispensable for the health of ecosystems for sustaining global biodiversity, influencing climate patterns and generating the oxygen that is vital for all living beings on Earth. Rainforests provide 20% of the oxygen and absorb 7.6 billion MT CO2 annually, supply freshwater and many food products such as cacao, coffee, spices and fruits and stabilize climate patterns.

Rainforests cover around 6% of Earth’s surface, but they are home to around 50% of the world’s plant and animal species.

With increasing human demand, rainforests to the size of 40 football fields are lost every minute which is 78 million hectares every year with 14 billion trees. Since 1980, the total disappeared rainforests will be equivalent to the size of Europe. The common causes include logging, mining, industrial development and land clearance for agriculture and farming.

Wherever a field of rainforest is removed, the surrounding wildlife habitats and homes of indigenous peoples are disrupted. Deforestation can cause flooding, soil erosion, desertification and climate change, but it also threatens our biodiversity and imperils our planet’s health.

Globally, deforestation results in an increase of 15% of the total CO2 emissions - more than from all cars in the US and China combined. In the global warming era, protecting and restoring rainforests is imperative.

These pervasive forces have triggered a cascading effect of damaging repercussions across the globe, posing a serious threat to countless species that are found in rainforests. Moreover, these activities have far-reaching implications, intensifying the global climate emergency. Rainforests also support jobs and economies through sectors like tourism and sustainable forestry.

Forests are home to more than three-quarters of the world’s life on land. Forests occupy 31% of the world’s land surface absorbing 30% of all global carbon emissions. Today, around 13% of Earth’s land is covered with tropical forests. Luckily, around 34% of the world’s forests are still in primary forests consisting of native tree species without the disturbances from human activities and ecological processes.

Forests harbor most of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity with the three components—ecosystem, species and genetic diversity. Forests provide habitats for about 80% of amphibians, 75% bird and 68% of mammal species. About 60% of all vascular plants occur in tropical forests. A square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species.

Tropical and subtropical regions represent 78% of gross emissions and 54% of gross removals. Tropical forests hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon, which is 7 times the amount emitted each year by human activities. Forests release stored carbon through deforestation, fire and natural processes while on decay. About one-third of global forest loss is fire-related and 90% of forest fires are caused by humans.

Manipur forests with 17,418 sqkm including the trees outside forests which is 78.01% of area has total carbon stock of 178.72 million tons equivalent to 655.31 million tons of CO2 which is 2.51% of total forest carbon stock in the country though our geographical area is 0.7% only.

Approximately 750 million people-including 60 million indigenous people -live in forests. Indigenous peoples manage about 40% of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact ecosystems worldwide. The forest sector contributes more than Rs.127.72 trillion to world’s GDP and employs 33 million people.

An estimated 75% of the 115 leading food crops globally-together representing 35% of global food production-benefit from pollination by animals and bees which live in forests. The global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050; this implies an increase in food demand of 46%, thus increasing demand for land and will place huge pressure on forests.

Rainforests are dubbed as “the world’s largest pharmacy” since a quarter of all known natural medicines comes from rainforests. 40-75% of biotic species are found in rainforests. Rainforests are so dense and thick that they have not been fully explored and there are likely millions of species of plants and animals to be discovered.

Rainforests are the source of everything, fantastic and useful from nature. We love rainforests and want to preserve them. We want to make sure that future generations have these advantages as well. We want to ensure a chance to discover all undiscovered plants and animals before them disappeared.

World Rainforest Day emerges as a beacon of hope, inspiring global efforts to protect and restore these beautiful habitats, the soul of living beings.


* N Munal Meitei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an Environmentalist
and can be reached at nmunall(AT)yahoo(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on July 09 2024.



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