Over half of the earth’s forests have been cleared, mainly for grazing land expansion, agriculture and road construction. Every year 15 million hectares of rainforest are being destroyed and this is having devastating impacts with loss of species and release of carbon from plants and soils into the atmosphere where it accelerates global warming.
There are multiple health benefits of forests in addition to their carbon storage effects. Forests clean our air and water, promote rain formation and protect soils from salinity and erosion. They are also a source of a rich variety of foods, especially for indigenous people. Many forests are sources of bioactive compounds from which over half our modern medicines have been developed. The predicted loss of species caused by deforestation and climate change may include plants whose potential medicinal and nutritional value is yet to be determined.
DEA recognizes the value of our forests for human health and well being and works to inform government and broader society of these benefits. We also support organisations and programs working to protect our precious old growth forests from further destruction and we actively promote the health and cultural importance of forests in Australia and globally.