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FORESTS have been called earth’s “lungs and life-support system,” and for good reason. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which can otherwise harm us. They also emit oxygen, a vital component in the air we breathe. About 80 percent of the world’s land-based plants and animals live in forests. Without forests, we could not survive.

The Threats to Our Forests

Each year, billions of trees are cut down, mostly to clear land for agricultural use. Since the late 1940’s, half the world’s rain forests have disappeared.

When a forest is destroyed, the benefits of the ecosystem and all that it provides go with it.

Our Planet​—Designed to Survive

Some deforested lands have displayed an amazing ability to recover and even expand. Ecologists have recently observed, to their surprise, how quickly deforested lands have been able to regrow naturally and become healthy forests again. Consider these examples:

  • Forested lands that were cleared for farming and later abandoned were monitored by researchers. A study of 2,200 such plots in the Americas and West Africa revealed that soil can return to its original forest-friendly health within ten years.

  • Researchers estimate that within about 100 years, the lands could naturally achieve a healthy diversity of trees and other forest life-forms, according to a study published in Science magazine.

  • Scientists in Brazil recently compared the rate of reforestation in areas with virtually no human intervention to that of areas where robust man-made strategies were implemented.

  • Referring to the researchers in this study, National Geographic reports: “To their delight, they found tree-planting was unnecessary.” In just five years, the tested plots, without any tree-planting, “were full of native trees.”

What Is Being Done

Worldwide, efforts have been made to manage existing forests and to restore those that have been degraded. As a result, according to a United Nations source, “global deforestation has slowed by more than 50 per cent” over the past 25 years.

But these efforts are not enough to save our forests. “The rate of primary forest loss in the tropics has been stubbornly consistent over the last few years,” says a report published by the organization Global Forest Watch.

Illegal logging is a multi-billion-dollar business, and commercial exploitation continues to drive tropical deforestation.

Forest management teams work to harvest mature forests responsibly and to plan the growth of new forests

Reasons for Hope​—What the Bible Says

“Jehovah a God made to grow out of the ground every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food.”​—Genesis 2:9.

The Creator of all forests designed them with the natural ability to recover from the effects of sustainable human usage. He wants to preserve and sustain our forests and their magnificently designed ecosystem.

The Bible shows that God will put an end to the mismanagement of earth’s resources so that our planet and life on it will survive. See the article “God Promises That Our Planet Will Survive,” on page 15.

a Jehovah is God’s personal name.​—Psalm 83:18.