„The death of the forest is the end of our life!” -Dorothy Stang
Forests are the most important ecosystem on our planet. They have a major impact on all our cycles of life. The water cycle, the carbon and oxygen cycle, the worldwide temperature compensation, and last but not least forests are home to most of the earth`s terrestrial biodiversity.
That these functions of forests are at the same time also the biggest issues we face when it comes to climate change is no coincidence, as human clear tropical forests of a surface bigger than Belgium every year. 1 Forests are not only important to sustain the earth as we know and need her, beyond that they are our biggest chance to fight climate change.
Fortunately, more and more people start to see these correlations between deforestation and the current climate crisis and change their mindsets towards forests. More and more afforestation projects all over the world are a good sign. But we need to change and improve many of our commercial used forests, mostly monocultures, as well, to enable them serving us with all their complex functions, not only the timber wood.
For the ecovillage Sieben Linden that means to shift the surrounding pine monocultures, which were planted all over eastern Germany during the communism for coal production, towards a healthy mixed forest. Therefore, the community plants 600-3.000 deciduous trees per year inside the monocultures and takes 400m3 pine wood out in exchange to heat our homes.
There are multiple reasons, why mixed forests are so much better than monocultures. Mixed forests are able to store at least twice as much carbon as monocultures, mainly because the plants use the space more effectively which causes a much denser flora. 2 And if diversity and density of the flora rise, the same happens to the fauna as well. In our local pine monocultures, you barely see any animals, the forest almost seems to be dead. Furthermore, biodiverse forests are much more resilient towards fires, drought, storms and pests, which is a quite important attribute in times of more and more extreme weather phenomena.