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Five Ways Forests Create Healthy Communities

Last year all of us on Earth lost over 56 million acres of critical forests – an area larger than all of New England and California combined.  While tropical forests are particularly vulnerable, northern forests are also under attack from wildfires, suburban sprawl, and industry. Scientists say we need to increase and maintain forests to combat the effects of climate change. Here are just five of the ways that trees help protect us:

  1. Forests help reduce the frequency, intensity, and extent of flooding events: Forests are like sponges. The variety of tree species and non-tree vegetation creates a complex and multi-level canopy that intercepts rainfall.  These plants also have a complex root system and deep layers of leaf litter, which can soak up water from rain and give it space and time to be gradually absorbed. Read more here.
  2. Forests help keep our drinking water clean: The complexity of vegetation that slows rainfall and reduces flooding also protects sources of drinking water. The slow infiltration speed reduces pollution in both surface water and groundwater and the trees and other vegetation remove pollutants. Read more here.
  3. Forests help fight climate change: A recent report from Harvard indicates that “New England’s forests are an underrated asset in the fight against climate change, already sequestering the equivalent of 14 percent of carbon emissions across the six states and capable of much more.” Read more here.
  4. Forests prevent species extinction: Forests are home to over two-thirds of the species that live on land.  When we reduce forest size or raze them completely, we lose more than the trees – we lose the plants and animals that depend on those forested lands. More importantly, we destroy the life-giving biodiversity that supports all of the world’s ecosystems.  Read more here.
  5. Forests keep us healthy. There is increasing scientific research that human health depends on large, intact, unfragmented forest ecosystems. From preventing infectious diseases to improving mental health, human well-being is linked to the health of our forests. In short, protecting and conserving forests makes us healthier. Read more here.

Conserving Northwest Connecticut forests is part of the global effort to protect 30 percent of the world’s lands and waters by 2030.  NCLC is committed to accelerating the pace of conservation to help protect these critical ecosystems and the species that depend on them, including our own.