The Amazon rain forest covers an area around 25 times the size of the UK and in a normal year absorbs an estimated 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. The rainforest is called "the lungs of the world" or "the world's carbon sink" because of all the greenhouse gases they absorb. But now the Telegraph reports that a drought in 2010-11 killed off many of those valuable trees and could turn the Amazon rain forests into carbon emitters, as those dead trees rot! Dr Paulo Brando, from Brazil's Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), said: "We will not know exactly how many trees were killed until we can complete forest measurements on the ground. It could be that many of the drought susceptible trees were killed off in 2005, which would reduce the number killed last year. On the other hand, the first drought may have weakened a large number of trees so increasing the number dying in the 2010 dry season."
We must save trees everywhere! In the UK the government has termed woodlands such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean, as "heritage forests". They state that such heritage forests won't be sold or cut down. On February 2 the UN launched the International Year of Forests, to raise awareness about the vital importance of forests and generate support for sustainable forestry practices. At least 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs. Large scale forest fires in Russia last summer destroyed acres of timber reserves, traditional habitats of mammals and birds, and emitted huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Russia has one fifth of world forests and the global climate depends on how well Russian forests are taken care of. With natural calamities striking everywhere, we must not take trees in our neighborhoods for granted. Even individual trees clean the air, provide shade, provide protection from icy winds and storms, and hold the soil together.