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You can't see the forest

Tu Beshevat: Deforestation for agriculture and construction contributes to the climate crisis and causes environmental damage, but nevertheless continues at a rapid pace. What can be done to preserve the forests?

The giant fires in the Amazon rainforest, August 2019. Photo: shutterstock
The giant fires in the Amazon rainforest, August 2019. Photo: shutterstock

Ran Ben Michael, Angle - Science and Environment News Agency

On Tu Beshevat they often talk about planting trees in the forests, but since the last Tu Beshevat, a huge number of trees have been burned and cut down in the world. Thus, for example, one of the prominent environmental events in the media coverage in 2019 was the large forest fires in the Amazon (which have since been pushed out of media attention due to the extensive ecological disaster caused by the fires in Australia). The fires increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, cause air pollution with particles and soot, help the spread of diseases in humans (for example, the Anopheles mosquitoes that spread the malaria parasite, benefit from the accumulation of water bodies in areas that have been deforested due to the decrease in the water consumption of the vegetation and the damage to the soil drainage), and especially Wreaking havoc on the ecosystem of the world's green lung.

Unfortunately, Brazil and Australia are not alone. Between 2001 and 2015, about 3 million square kilometers of forests around the world were created or burned. In Ethiopia, about 11 percent of the country's land is forested. From this area, more than 2001 percent of the tree cover has been lost since 3, according to the World Forestry Monitoring Organization. In response, in 2019 Ethiopia broke the world record for planting trees in one day when it planted 350 million trees in 24 hours. As part of an initiative to plant 4 billion trees with an investment of XNUMX percent of the country's GDP.

The taiga, the Russian snow forest in Siberia, covers about 12 million square kilometers and contains mainly evergreen coniferous trees. Siberia is greatly affected by global climate change and has recorded temperature records, extreme temperature differences, and huge fires in recent years. As in Brazil, the fires are spreading due to logging. The Greenpeace organization estimated the area burned last summer in Siberia at about 131 thousand square kilometers, an area equal to the area of ​​Greece. Therefore, China, the world's largest consumer of wood for the furniture industry that imports about a third of its consumption from Russia, recently mobilized to help its neighbor to the north in the restoration of forests to ensure continued supply.

Palm and soybean oil instead of trees

About 70 percent of the island of Papua New Guinea is covered by one of the largest rainforests in the world. It is estimated that in recent years about 2 percent of it has been created. Here, too, the harvesting is for the utilization of the trees as raw material or as fuel. But the main source of the damage is the conversion of the forest to the cultivation of palm oil (the country is the fourth in the world in the value of its exports). Papua is one of the research cases in a report by the "World Witness" organization, published in September 2019, which examined the financial support provided by the major banks, in the amount of tens of billions of dollars, to agricultural corporations engaged in clearing forests for the cultivation of meat for food, rubber, and palm oil.

Brazil also stars in this report. Brazil is the largest soybean grower and meat exporter in the world. Soybean grows on large farms on forest land that bureaus and agricultural trade corporations buy it for export to Europe and the USA (about two-thirds of the soyabean is used to feed animals). An interesting journalistic investigation revealed that the chances of a fire in the Amazon are three times greater in areas designated for growing meat. Thus, directly or indirectly, fires and fires are part of the supply chain of the international fast food chains.

Blue-white forests

In Israel, which only has 1.3 percent of its land covered by forests, according to the World Forestry Monitoring Organization, 8.3 percent of the tree cover in relation to the forested area was lost in 2000. "We are far from the dire situation in the tropical forests and the forests of the Arctic Circle," explains Prof. Avi Parbolotsky, former director of the Department of Natural Resources At the Volcanic Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has studied the great fires in Carmel since the late 80s. "There is almost no natural forest in Israel and most of the forested area is planted and managed as a public resource for the needs of its utilization. In addition, there is little economic pressure on the Israeli forest to utilize it for agriculture or the extraction of other resources, certainly not to the extent known from other parts of the world, this is mainly because of the rocky substrate and the topography in which it develops. On the other hand, the danger of fires, which worsens with the increase in the average global temperature, will further threaten the forested area in Israel."

One of the responses to deforestation and its connection to the climate crisis, is the expansion of forestry projects through planting. "In Israel, afforestation through planting is not necessarily a main part of the solution, says Parvolotsky. "The Israeli climate does not allow for the expansion of afforestation everywhere, and in some of the ecosystems, the expansion of plantings will change their character, and not necessarily for the better. This can have negative effects on the water economy or on relationships with other species. However, it is possible and desirable to replace dead or diseased trees, or plant areas that have been created."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

4 תגובות

  1. There are large areas in the Negev that were once used for vegetable agriculture
    Today those terraces are being destroyed and the soil stored behind the terraces is being washed away.
    Restoring the terraces using today's methods and planting trees there can add to Israel,
    thousands of dunams of trees and to enrich the groundwater in the Negev


  2. The forest areas in Israel are extremely limited. It is known that until the arrival of the Ottomans, large areas in the Galilee and Lower Galilee and Sharon were forested with oak trees and these. A significant part of these areas are still open and have not been reforested. Preferably in the original varieties.

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