Functions of Forests


Forests are the most natural biological formation, closely tied with the Polish landscape (MAP illustrating the forests in Poland). They serve many functions. Firstly, forests protect and form other natural resources. Thanks to the processes of photosynthesis, they renew the oxygen stock in the atmosphere by fixing atmospheric carbon dioxide and moderating the so-called greenhouse effect. Forests also allow for the existence of many species of plants and animals, thus protecting diversity of nature and its gene stock. Forests clean the environment by muffling noises, lowering the wind strength as well as stopping dust and gases. They have a regulatory influence on surface water runoff, they moderate high and low temperatures and prevent soil erosion. By performing all of the above listed functions forests stabilize the climate and shape the landscape. Forests create conditions for relaxation, recreation and improvement of health.

 Forests are a renewable source of resource (mainly timber) and other products, which cannot be eliminated from the everyday life of human beings or from the national economy. Timber is one of the elements of the environment of man ñ warm and friendly products made out of wood are found all around us. Forests are live, open, natural systems, that react to all external influences. The course and extent of these reactions allow us to treat forests as an indicator of change in nature (the condition of forests serves as evidence of the factors which endanger the natural environment).

 Only now is the awareness of spiritual and material values of forests becoming more prevalent. This being after forests have undergone serious deformation and their values are highly tHReatened. This is the case for both tro../pical forests of the Amazon basin and European forests. Degradation of Polish forests was noticed a long time ago. The changes that occurred in the last decade were very serious and in some areas tHReaten the existence of forests.