Sunday, March 30, 2008

Can we rescue rainforests?

Tropical rainforests are important from many different reasons but deforestation is taking heavy toll on them and many rainforests have been cut down in past 50 years, mainly because agriculture and road infrastructure. Deforestation was responsible for destroy of many rainforest ecosystems, and only few fought it is possible restoring tropical rainforest ecosystems. But as the researches from the Boyce Thompson Institute showed even this impossible looking task can be done.

Carl Leopold and his partners in the Tropical Forestry Initiative began planting trees on worn-out pasture land in Costa Rica in 1992, and native species began to move in and flourish, raising the hope that destroyed rainforests can one day be replaced with new rainforests. They used local rainforest trees, collecting seeds from native trees in the community so when a farmer would notice a tree producing seeds, Leopold and his wife would ride out on horses to find the tree before hungry monkeys beat them to it.

They planted mixture of local species, trimming away the pasture grasses until the trees could take care of themselves and this turn out with better results than the procedures used before by several companies that used to plant entire fields of a single type of tree. They have also decided tp plant fast-growing and sun-loving tree species, which after just five years formed a canopy of leaves, shading out the grasses underneath and this trees are averaging amazing growth of two meter per year.

Leopold said how the results are promising, but it may take hundreds of years till these rainforest fully flourish again. He admitted he was surprised and said: "We're getting an impressive growth of new forest species. After only ten years, plots that began with a few species are now lush forests of hundreds. Who knows what the next few decades - or centuries - might bring?".

Nobody knows, but there will be little benefits from such positive projects if deforestation continues destroying tropical rainforests. Human population is constantly growing and this factor doesn't help in mission to save rainforests, since more people need more food and more area to live in, and rainforests are often the ones that pay the price. But this project is good example that right action and hard work can give encouraging results. We still don't know whether we can rescue rainforests or not, but at least now we know how to try. So why not give it a try?

Can we rescue rainforests?

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