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The Seven Hidden Secrets of the Forest

If there is a question where we can find the largest recreation centre and the most natural supermarket, the forest is unlikely to be the first answer. However, the forest has some mysteries.

For too long we have seen trees as functional or decorative objects in a background or on the edge of a field. Trees decorate city streets, shelter from the blazing sun, source of paper and energy, producer of fruits and nuts. They provide us real benefits.

But some other benefits are almost invisible to our eyes. Forests work silently behind the scenes: from cleaning water and filtering the air to protecting us from climate change. They are guardians for billions of people on earth; providing food, medicine, and energy to those who may not have access to resources, and home to more than three-quarters of the world's terrestrial biodiversity.

At least 80% of the amazing life exists in the forest, hidden deep in the grove of trees, some of which we may know and some may surprise us. All living things in the forests, even the smallest ones, play important roles. Each is working hard for the sustainability of life on earth.

Unaware to us, forests have prominent roles in our lives. These are the seven secrets they've been keeping:

  1. Supermarket
    More than just the fruits we pick during the harvest season, the forest is a real food market. In general, fruit, nuts and spice trees come from the forest before being cultivated and consumed by us.
  2. Life Guarantee
    So many people depend on the forest for their food sources. About 40% of poor rural communities, which is approximately 250 million people in the world, live around forest and savanna areas. For these people, forests and trees are guarantees to overcome hunger.
  3. Water Sources
    Forests provide most of the drinking water for more than a third of the world's largest cities. Many upstream rivers are in the forests. Trees act as filters and providers of clean water which is vital for life.
  4. Energy
    About a third of the world's population uses wood as their energy source for activities such as cooking, boiling water, and heating. Wood from forests provides at least 40% of the world's renewable energy. Trees are growing back, but we need to prioritize sustainable use of resources to protect forests from degradation.
  5. Superheroes
    Forest acts like a superhero in a fictional film who doesn't show his true self but always fights for good. They are our heroes fighting climate change. They make our cities more sustainable by cooling the air and removing pollutants naturally. They take care of our health by providing a place to rest. They face land degradation and fight against loss of biodiversity by providing habitat for plants and animals.
  6. Carbon Sink
    This forest--our hero, always provides oxygen for us to breathe and magnificently absorb about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. Unfortunately, his weakness is human-made deforestation. Deforestation is one of the causes of climate change and loss of biodiversity habitat.
  7. Recreation
    Forests are a great—and for free--recreation location to relieve ourselves from city life, to observe biodiversity, listen to the sound of the forest, to enjoy the smell of trees and sunlight through the leaves, to breathe fresh air, and other things that give us comfort. Nature-based tourism is growing three times more than the entire travel industry and now accounts for 20% of the global market.

Unnoticed by us, forests have been our savior by secretly taking important part in our daily lives. We cannot live a healthy and productive life without them. This is the time to divulge the secrets of the forests. Happy International Forest Day!


Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)