Forests are Fantastic!
When you thing about a forest, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most of us, the answer is TREES! But, forests are more than just trees. Walk through a forest looking carefully around you, and you’ll see an interconnected system, of which trees are only a part. Let’s look closer at these connections.
Forests Protect Soil and Water
Forests are important protectors of the soil: Trees bind precious top soil and together with their roots, prevent it from being washed away. Forests also act like huge umbrellas, breaking the impact of raindrops, and releasing rain water gently and steadily to the soil beneath. This helps to keep the soil on land where it belongs, and protects rivers and reservoirs from siltation. Trees are an important part of the water cycle, absorbing water from the soil and passing it into the air, which contributes to cloud formation and rain.
Forests, carbon dioxide and oxygen
Carbon dioxide, which we breathe out, and which is given off by motor vehicles, is a leading cause of global warming, or the “greenhouse effect”. Forests are carbon storehouses. Trees absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, the process by which they make their own food. There are tons of carbon stored in forests and wood products. Trees also give off oxygen during photosynthesis, a critical element for life on Earth.
Shade and windbreak
Trees are used as a canopy to provide shade for many crops such as coffee and cocoa. They are also planted as windbreaks to protect crops such as bananas from wind damage. Animals and people use trees as shelter from the sun; a tree planted near your home or school will help keep you cool!
Jamaica’s forests are a precious national treasure! They provide homes for countless numbers of plants, animals and insects. There are 3,000 species of flowering plants on the island, and 800 species of these are only found here! Many special animals also make their homes in the forests, including the Jamaica Yellow Snake, the Jamaican Owl, Giant Swallowtail, and the Coney.
Forests give us beauty, serenity, and a cool, peaceful place to relax and play. They also attract tourists who come to Jamaica not only for the sun and sand, but to enjoy out lush greenery and forested mountains.
Forests and Jamaica
Trees have always played a large role in out culture—they are associated with good luck, peace-making, long life, ancestral homes and duppies! [Up to a generation ago, most Jamaicans buried their new-born’s navel chords under a tree.] With all of the great things trees and our forests provide, it is critical that we protect them so they will always be here to sustain us!
Did you know?
An average of 50 acres of forest is needed to absorb the carbon dioxide released from one car over its lifetime? Car owners—how many trees have you planted today?
Trees of Jamaica
Want to know more about the trees of Jamaica? Appearance, habitat, identifying characteristics and uses are described - our database is constantly being added to – a special feature will be a focus on native trees.