Scientific Benefits of Wilderness

Scientists widely regard preserving forests as essential for many reasons, with numerous benefits. Here are some critical advantages highlighted by scientific research:
Biodiversity Conservation: Forests are home to numerous plant and animal species. Preserving these ecosystems helps safeguard biodiversity, enabling species to thrive and maintain their ecological roles. Forests act as vital habitats, supporting countless organisms and contributing to the planet’s overall health. Wilderness areas halve the extinction risk of terrestrial biodiversity. Di Marco, Ferrier, Harwood, Hoskins, Watson, Sep 26, 2019

Climate Regulation: Forests are crucial in mitigating climate change by acting as carbon sinks. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis, helping offset greenhouse gas emissions. Preserving forests helps maintain this vital carbon sequestration capacity and stabilizes global climate patterns. Wilderness and Climate Change: David Cole, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute; and Steven Boutcher, Washington Office, Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Staff

Water Cycle Maintenance: Forests are integral to the water cycle, regulating water flow, reducing soil erosion, and maintaining water quality. Trees capture rainwater, replenish groundwater reserves, and release moisture into the atmosphere through evaporation, which helps to regulate rainfall patterns and maintain healthy water systems. 3 Surprising Ways Water Depends on Healthy Forests: March 21, 2017 By Katie Lyons and Todd Gartner
Economic Value: Forests provide numerous financial benefits, non-timber forest products, and ecotourism. Preserving forests has proven to financially benefit local communities, businesses, and individuals by promoting green economies, and contributing to long-term socioeconomic development. Wilderness areas contribute to economic health of rural communities: Tom Holmes and Eric White US Forest Service & Evan Hjerpe of the Conservation Economics Institute
Human Health and Well-being: Forests offer therapeutic benefits to human health. They enhance air quality by filtering pollutants and providing oxygen, contribute to mental well-being by offering recreational spaces, and provide natural resources for traditional medicine and pharmaceutical research. Nurtured by Nature: Kirsten Weir, April 1, 2020. American Psychological Association

Given forests’ critical role in sustaining life on Earth, scientists emphasize the need to preserve and restore these valuable ecosystems. By recognizing and appreciating their benefits, we can work towards ensuring their conservation for present and future generations.