For the love of forests


   A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov 18 Oct 1888

Felipe Gaitan, joining Catalicity, shares his thoughts on the United Nations International Day of Forests, 21st March 2017.

Amazonian soil, as most tropical rainforest soils, is very poor in nutrients. Leaves, branches and other organic matter are deposited on the ground and quickly decomposed into nutrients for plant use. Large roots and understory vegetation act as barriers that keep the nutrients from washing away by runoff. When a large portion of the forest is cut down, high amounts of surface water clear the ground from nutrients. Even if used for crops, this land is not sustainable in the long run, and after quickly exhausting the soil, the land is usually abandoned.

This is a sad and recurring story. Forest depletion affects us in all levels of our lives. Forests gives us oxygen, they give us shade and protection, they even give food and water… But what are we giving in return?

Protecting forests is not something that “tree-hugging hippies” do. This is the job of serious scientists, policy makers and business decision makers, who must understand that forests are the future of humanity, and that without them, our future will not be a long one.

But… what can I do today? After all, I am just sitting down in front of a digital device and highly unlikely to go out and plant a whole forest myself.

Then I remember, by simply thinking about it, you are giving the forests a space in your mind. This opens up an opportunity that, if acted upon, will result in a life-changing activity that contributes to your own and everyone else’s future.

However, there are some things you could do:

  1. Commit to using reusable cups when buying coffee/tea to-go.
  2. Try not to print anything today, it may sound hard, but reading a bit more from the screen isn’t as bad as it sounds. If you must print, choose that contains recycled material, or is from an FSC certified source.
  3. Refuse excessive packaging when possible and do your best recycle all that you can.
  4. You are the catalyst, so think of the many ways you can contribute by sharing your ideas.
  5. Commit to doing these everyday of your life, not just today!

‘The image was taken while mountain biking to Leith Hill. This forest provides me with water, oxygen, and most important a place to clear my mind and strengthen my spirit.’

Felipe Gaitan is an ecologist, project manager and Master of Science in Environmental Strategy who grew up in Colombia. A recent graduate from the University of Surrey he is now joining Catalicity to apply his experience of sustainable development, ecological forest restoration, urban agriculture  and sustainable farming to help businesses to deepen their understanding. His passion for nature extends to all aspects of his life, whether work related or hobbies. He is a fulcrum for positive action towards the environment.

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