5 Benefits of Afforestation Explained
Benefits of afforestation include; raw material replenishment, soil conservation, agricultural productivity, biodiversity conservation, hazard mitigation and climate stabilization.
This article discusses the benefits of afforestation, as follows;
1). Raw Material Replenishment (as one of the Benefits of Afforestation)
Afforestation helps to replenish raw materials that occur in forest ecosystems .
It is a viable approach for forest raw material replenishment because it also assures that sustainability is established while these materials are regenerated; by replicating or adapting the conditions and geochemical cycles of natural ecosystems.
Through this benefit, afforestation can be said to support all industries and sectors of the economy where such raw materials are used, including manufacturing, sustainable-agricultural and renewable energy industries.
Raw materials from forests are; timber, fodder for livestock, plant and animal biomass which could be used as (or converted to) biofuel, and food-related raw materials like preservatives, spices, vegetables, fruits and other edibles like mushrooms.
These materials can be used for various forms of production, and help boost economic activity and growth.
Replenishment of raw materials through afforestation, also leads to job creation in the sectors where such raw materials are needed, as well as all sectors linked to these.
Because the resources from forests are mostly renewable, their replenishment through afforestation can be viewed as a step in the direction of sustainable development, circular economy, environment protection, and control of resource depletion.
2). Soil Conservation
Afforestation helps to maintain or improve soil fertility, as a result of the biological and physicochemical changes that occur in soil with the presence of forest vegetation.
One of these changes occurs in form of an increase in ecologic resilience and resistance to both manmade and natural disasters.
The roots of trees that grow in the course of afforestation, usually have a binding effect on soil particles, holding them together in such a manner that reduces the risk of landslides, and soil erosion by all kinds of erosive agents including runoff and wind .
Afforestation also conserves soil by increasing its biomass and organic carbon content.
Rates of carbon sequestration are generally increased when afforestation is implemented on any given land . In addition to its soil benefits, this effect is beneficial to the atmosphere and climate, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the performance of soil as a natural carbon sink.
The positive impacts of afforestation on soil imply that it could function as a means of soil restoration or remediation in some cases.
When un-occupied land is converted to forest area through afforestation, it prevents unsustainable human activities from taking place on such land.
Lands that have undergone afforestation also tend to improve and recover from the negative environmental impacts of their former conditions of use; which could include pollution and soil loss through erosion.
Especially when the agroforestry-based type of afforestation is implemented, it is often accompanied by sustainable agricultural practices and other measures of soil conservation like rotational grazing and cover cropping; all of which have net-positive effects on the soil.
Afforestation tends to result in water conservation, simultaneously as it conserves soil moisture by increasing infiltration and reducing evaporation rates.
3). Hazard Mitigation and Climate Stabilization (as one of the Benefits of Afforestation)
Afforestation leads to mitigation of hazards and stabilization of climatic conditions .
The types of natural disasters that are mitigated by afforestation are mostly meteorological and hydrological, including erosion, heat waves, landslides, flooding, drought, and desertification.
As a means of achieving such goals, afforestation has the advantage of being purely organic and sustainable.
It is also cost-effective compared to other measures like the use of carbon removal technologies; that have similar objectives.
Climate stabilization by afforestation usually occurs through the mitigation of climate change.
Afforestation mitigates climate change by increasing the regional capacity of natural carbon sinks like vegetation and soil. These sinks, such as forest trees, can consume greenhouse gases in the course of photosynthesis and other metabolic activities.
4). Biodiversity Conservation
The relationship between afforestation and biodiversity is a cause-and-effect relationship.
This is because biodiversity helps to further establish the ecological conditions needed for sustainable forest development; and afforestation itself helps to conserve or preserve biodiversity.
Various types of biodiversity are preserved through afforestation; including forest, agricultural, and urban biodiversity.
Multiple species of birds, reptiles, mammals, plants and microbes can be protected through afforestation, which helps to provide habitat as well as suitable ecological conditions for survival of such organisms.
In the area of biodiversity conservation, afforestation could be viewed as a reverse mechanism for the effects of deforestation, which include destruction of habitat, and loss of biodiversity.
5). Agricultural Productivity (as one of the Benefits of Afforestation)
Afforestation leads to increase in agricultural productivity through any of various ways.
One of these ways is through the integration of afforestation with agricultural projects.
Within the context of agroforestry, it is possible to integrate afforestation with agriculture, in the form of integrated crop-livestock management, among others.
Under such conditions, agricultural production is usually optimal as a result of the positive biological, physicochemical, and edaphic effects of afforestation.
Afforestation also increases agricultural productivity by optimizing climatic conditions and functioning as a method of regional landscape management, soil conservation and hazard mitigation.
Benefits of afforestation are;
1. Raw Material Replenishment
2. Soil Conservation
3. Hazard Mitigation and Climate Stabilization
4. Biodiversity Conservation
5. Agricultural Productivity
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