Al Gore, Earth in the BalanceForests provide not only environmental protection, but also significant income and livelihood options globally for more than one billion forest-dependent people. Trees provide a wide range of products (timber, fruit, medicine, beverages, fodder) and services (carbon sequestration, shade, beautification, erosion control, soil fertility). Without trees human life would be unsustainable.
Forests also play an important cultural, spiritual and recreational role in many societies. In some cases, they are integral to the very definition and survival of indigenous and traditional cultures.
Forests and trees are symbolically important in most of the world’s major religions. Trees symbolise historical continuity, they link earth and heavens and, to many traditions, are home to both good and bad spirits and the souls of ancestors.
Forests also play an important role in offering recreational opportunities and spiritual solace in modern societies. They are universally powerful symbols, a physical expression of life, growth and vigour to urban, rural and forest dwellers alike. Medicinal products from trees help to cure diseases and increase fertility. Trees preside over community discussions and marriages. They are planted at the birth of a child and at burial sites.