Characteristics of a Healthy Forest

Biodiversity

Diversity gives ecosystems stability and helps them deal with various stress factors. 

The best way to encourage high levels of biodiversity is to have a good mixture of habitats within our forests. This means maintaining a combination of various forest types, tree ages, and species compositions. Healthy forests usually have a mosaic of stand conditions present.

Habitat and wildlife

Wildlife use different parts of the forest for food, shelter, and protection. Both living and dead trees are important for various wildlife species. Many species are quite specific in the kinds of conditions they need to thrive and therefore they are often associated only with a particular type or age of forest stand.

Protection of soil

Forests help to prevent erosion, or the wearing away of soil through the action of wind and water. The canopy of leaves in the forest shields the ground from the hard pounding action of rain, slowing and softening its fall to the forest floor. Plants also contribute organic material to soil which helps soil absorb and hold water. This prevents the water from running off rapidly across the surface, carrying soil with it. 

Protection of water and air

Forests filter large amounts of water and air which flow through them. This filtering action helps trap some kinds of pollutants and remove them from continued circulation. Forests are important in increasing the amount and quality of drinking water available to people and also are important in providing us with oxygen.

Everyone wins when forests are healthy.

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