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As a huge reservoir of biodiversity, forests are both a nurturing and protective space for hundreds of plant and animal species.
We often tend to associate the notion of biodiversity with a kind of exotic impenetrable jungle that is home to hundreds of different species. In reality, you don’t have to go far to see biodiversity and the dangers it faces. Biodiversity is a contraction of the terms “biological” and “diversity” and encompasses all ecosystems and the living beings that inhabit them, whether plant or animal species.
The richness of biodiversity lies in the multiformity of the fauna and flora, some of which are endemic, i.e. they have only colonised a very specific region of the globe. Biodiversity is essential to life on Earth, because the richer an ecosystem is, the more resilient it will be in the face of external aggression. In this respect, the forest is a kind of natural sanctuary. This space, which is both nourishing and protective, brings together a wide variety of species that live in symbiotic, competitive or predatory relationships. But beware: if you remove one link, the whole chain is disrupted, with the risk of seeing an entire ecosystem collapse. This is what we see, for example, with certain single-species forestry plantations, which are particularly vulnerable to pathogens.
20% of French CO2 emissions offset by forests
As a real carbon sink, the forest is therefore an immense reservoir of biodiversity. However, more than half (54%) of the world’s forests are found in just five countries: Russia, Brazil, Canada, the United States and China, which corresponds to a total of more than 4 billion hectares. Metropolitan France has 17 million hectares of forest, covering almost a third of the country. And the good news is that this green lung continues to gain ground: wooded areas have more than doubled in less than two centuries. There are 138 species of trees, 72% of the territory’s plant species, 73 species of mammals and 120 species of birds. In total, 30% of the national biodiversity is sheltered in the forests of metropolitan France. Today, it is estimated that the forestry and wood industry helps to offset around 20% of France’s CO2 emissions. It thus plays a major role in climate change mitigation.
Maintaining good soil fertility
In order to maintain the balance in the complex and fragile ecosystem of a forest, it is necessary first of all to emphasise the conservation of natural habitats. A portion of old forest, a dead tree, or a stump are all living places for plant and animal species that will strengthen the resistance of the ecosystem on a large scale. Good soil fertility through the production of humus is also a prerequisite for maintaining biodiversity. The slow decomposition of the plant cover (leaves, dead wood, fruit husks, etc.) is ensured by the micro-organic fauna, whose vitality is an excellent indicator of the quality of the soil, and therefore of the state of a forest. Conversely, if the undergrowth is systematically cleared of its plant cover, the soils will end up being impoverished and will no longer be able to support any particular plant or animal species. Lastly, the adaptation of human interventions has a decisive impact, such as predicting wood cutting periods according to reproduction periods.