No More Wood to Burn

 

Eventually, if we try hard enough, we might be able to consume all of our global forests! No more trees! Well, that is not really likely to happen – at least, I don’t think it can. Yet, if you go back through history, there is a very clear pathway through most forests that reflects the migration of mankind.

Cities weren’t always cleared expanses waiting for building foundations to begin construction. And, as those cities took root, more and more land was needed for agriculture. So, where there were insufficient fields to grow crops, forests were cut down. Today, when most or a lot of trees are taken out of a section of forest, it is called “clearcutting”. You can check out more about that in this Wikipedia link.

Today, we seem to realize the importance of trees and why we must be more careful in ensuring future supplies. Of course, if we OUTpace our ability to REplace trees, then we create a domino effect where we get behind our ability to restore. Then, nature takes over and we end up like where we are today – in a debate about whether climate change is or is not; whether too much carbon has been released or not; whether the glaciers are receding “naturally” or not; whether tropical rainforests are like any other forests or not. This debate just continues on.

To make this discussion a little easier, let’s move to Uganda. It seems that the country is experiencing some tree problems. They are cutting down too many. Actually, this is also happening in Northern Nigeria, and Kenya, and, just in case it wasn’t noticed, a lot of other countries around the world are losing tree cover. I’ve talked about Russia making room for a highway through the last remaining oak tree forest around Moscow. There is not enough time to visit all of the places that are losing trees, so, we can stay focused on Uganda.

According to the article “Desertification A Real Threat” that appears on Professor Van Cotthem’s blog,

people are destroying forests in search of firewood, charcoal, timber and fertile land for cultivation to feed the ever growing population.” That sounds familiar.

To be exact, the National Minister of Environment says that

Uganda has 27% of its forest cover”.

If it were only a question of having No More Wood to Burn, that would be bad enough. However, the REAL importance of the forests is this:

“despite their vital use as sources of fuel for millions of Ugandans, the disappearance of forests would have far-reaching consequences because of their rain-making abilities, as sources of medicinal herbs and habitats for wild life. They also act as silting agents for poisonous substances that are carried by running water, before it ends up in lakes, rivers and natural wells.”

The truth is, this issue is much bigger than Uganda.

 

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