The Forest in Your Everyday Life

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We are surrounded by the forest, even if we don’t see it. If you look around right now, chances are you will see something that has its origins in the forest. May it be the wooden chair you’re sitting on, the book on your desk, the cork in the wine bottle or the herbal tea in your kitchen cupboard.

 

Living in the trees

The first thing one usually thinks of when it comes to forest products is wood. It is still a popular material for furniture and constructions like houses, but also fences, shoreline stabilization, protective barriers, among many other things. Of all forest products, however, it is not just wood that is used for construction. For example, one of the uses of cork, obtained from cork trees, is for insulation, walls and floors. So, say you are at home, in your living room, then you are likely to be partly surrounded by the forest. Additionally to the house itself and the furniture, if you look around, you will probably also find both of those things, wood and cork, around the room.

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Not everything that is made of wood looks like wood. Do you have a notebook lying around? Are you reading a book or magazine? Right, paper is made from wood as well. Paper pulp is made from trees’ cellulose, preferably from fast growing, broadleaved trees that are often specifically grown for the purpose of producing paper. Despite the increasing use of technological options instead of paper, its use is still rising rapidly. When we look at cork, we will notice that it’s used on a large scale for wine corks. However, over the last years it has also become increasingly popular for everyday items such as pinboards, notebooks, purses, wallets and all kinds of decorations. This popularity is partly due to the fact that cork trees don’t have to be felled to produce cork because the bark of the trees is used.

 

A tour around the house

Let’s move on to the bathroom. Aside from the toilet paper that is also made of trees’ cellulose, lotions, ointments and other cosmetic products often contain herbs or oils from plants that grow in the forest. And what about your medicine cabinet? There is a huge variety and potential in the use of plant parts such as roots and leaves for herbal medicines. Many medicinal plants, like ramsons, nettle or black elder for example, grow in the forest.

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Shall we continue with the kitchen? There are plenty of foods that can be found in the forest, from many different kinds of nuts to olives to honey from beehives. One of the most popular forest foods are mushrooms. In Catalonia alone there are around 26 different kinds of edible mushrooms that people happily gather every year. Or put your kettle on the stove and you can enjoy some tea from rose hips, linden and various other kinds of plants and herbs, all deriving from the forest!

 

Breathing in the forest

Now why don’t you open a window, let in some fresh air? If you live near a forest or in a densely planted neighbourhood, the air you let in is much cleaner. Apart from the simple fact that trees emit the oxygen we need to breathe, they are also great natural filters. Trees do not only filter gases out of the air that are harmful for the earth’s ecosystem, but also gases that directly affect people’s health, like nitrogen oxides, ammonia and ozone. Besides filtering gases, trees also capture damaging particulate matter like dust, ash, pollen and smoke. You might not value this so much in winter, but forests also help cooling the air. In a similar manner as how people sweat, trees cool the air through evapotranspiration, a real benefit in summer, especially since summers are getting hotter every year.

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These are just a few examples of how the forest surrounds us in our daily lives. So next time someone tells you they don’t care too much for the forest, maybe kindly remind them how much every one of us gains from it. If we want to get the most out of the forest and keep it happy and healthy, however, it has to be managed in a sustainable way. To find out more about what that means, take a look around the Social Forest website!

 

Related SDG

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