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Value of Forests

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Forests are great places for a hike.

Forests are great places
for a hike.

We have many reasons to value our forests. They are a source of timber and other forest products, such as honey, essential oils, bark for tanneries, traditional medicines and wild fruits.

Forests also provide habitat for native animals and plants, protection for water catchments, climate modification and opportunities for education and scientific research, as well as being pleasant places to visit and relax.

Forest Products

South Australia’s forest plantations currently provide around 2.32 million cubic metres of mostly softwood timber. Most of this is used in SA, with the balance of the timber needed, mainly hardwoods, coming from interstate or overseas.

Recreation

Our forests are important areas for community recreation. People in Adelaide and other major urban centres rely on nearby natural areas for outdoor activities. Forests are popular places to go for a relaxing outing, a picnic or a walk. Some forest areas have facilities for camping, bushwalking and horse-riding.

A Native Forest

A native forest.

Catchment Protection

Native and plantation forests protect our water supply by acting as filters to keep streams and rivers clean and healthy. Forests protect the ground surface from soil erosion. When it rains, the fallen leaves, pine needles, grasses and other small plants on the forest floor help to slow the rate of water run off and reduce the risk of soil erosion. The water then either soaks into the soil or slowly seeps into small creeks and streams.

Forests also have an important role to play in preventing dryland salinity. Soil salinisation occurs when groundwater levels (water tables) rise, resulting in an accumulation of salts in the upper layers of the soil.

Climate Modification

Many scientists believe that the clearing of forests, both locally and globally, is changing rainfall patterns and causing local conditions to become drier. Actively-growing forests are important users of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and producers of the oxygen which all animals, including humans,  breathe. Forests produce large amounts of oxygen which goes back into the atmosphere. Forests could be said to be the lungs of the world.

Students visiting a forest as part of an education program.

Students visiting a forest as
part of an education program

Education and Research

Schools and other organisations visit our forests as part of their educational programs. Native forest areas are used to study biology and natural resource management, or students can visit plantation forests to learn about commercial forestry and forest products.

Foresters also undertake research on topics such as appropriate fire management practices and how best to conserve flora and fauna.

Find Out More

National Forest Education & Awareness Network - www.australianforests.org.au

Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry -
www.daff.gov.au/brs/forest-veg