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NATURAL RESOURCESForestry and VegetationGianenzo SpagnuoloWhen we think of natural resources, we think of the classics: coal, oil, and water, to name a few. However, a natural resource that is often overlooked is the beauty of nature surrounding us. Many things threaten the longevity of natural spaces, though, in recent years, more and more focus is being shifted to conserving the beauty and tranquillity of nature for our future generations. Coal, oil, and mineral resources are limited and will run out once we have extracted them all. Throughout the past 30 years, the world's population has skyrocketed, and technology has developed in ways previously seen only in science fiction. Despite the massive changes in our world, one thing remains fundamental to human existence, the wonderfully peaceful, serene, and calming natural world. Our fundamental connection as humans and creatures of this world calls us from the rustling leaves to the warmth of the sun, the feel of the earth, and the embrace of the rain.
We take for granted the importance of the natural world; forests and the vegetation they hold are home to animals and insects, without which will see the collapse of their homes. A good example would be to think of a flowering plant that has one specific insect that pollinates and feeds off that plant. As we reduce the plant population by deforestation or infrastructure, so too does the insect species decline. The effects we are having on natural resources are becoming more and more noticeable, and because of this, organisations have taken charge of change. Since 1997, removing hedgerows from farms in the United Kingdom has been illegal. These hedgerows are hubs for biodiversity, offering habitat for birds, mammals, and insects that live amongst the vegetation. In recent years, trusts and funding have been made available for their maintenance and improvement. Forests offer more than just a beautiful environment; man-made forests used for lumber are still widespread as lumber remains a widely used natural resource. In most countries, such as South Africa, the Pinus genus, Eucalyptus species, and Australian Acacia were brought here by early colonisers as a source of lumber and livestock feed, with regards to the Acacia. These industries were successful because they lacked natural limiting factors such as diseases, pests, and predators, allowing them to thrive under ideal conditions. However, the effects on natural ecosystems, at a time when their importance was yet to be discovered, led to extensive contamination and spread outside demarcated forestry areas. Pines and Eucalyptus species are massively invasive, and their presence in ecosystems in South Africa and other countries has been documented to cause biodiversity loss. Natural resources management is a complex field which involves many parties to consider and aspects to decision-making. The thing that will never change is that as a species, big and small, we are all interconnected in beautifully complex ways; we humans are part of that. The health of the planet and ours are connected; we require one another to live a long, happy life.