Forest ecosystems are much more than just an assemblage of trees. They are a complex, interacting, and coordinated system. In the word ecosystem, “Eco” refers to the environment, in this case a forest, and “system” refers to the numerous interacting units (e.g. trees, soil, insects, mammals, reptiles, birds, etc.). All the other organisms that occur in a forest ecosystem are there because of the trees and cannot exist without them.
Most of the world’s original forests have been lost to conversion or have been altered by logging and forest management. Forests that still combine large size with insignificant human influence are becoming increasingly rare as their global extent continues to shrink. Fragmentation and loss of natural forests threaten many plant and animal species with extinction. Forest biodiversity largely depends on intact forest landscapes. Roaming animals (such as wolves, jaguars, eagles, deer etc.) especially require intact forest landscapes. Large forest areas are also important for maintaining ecological processes and supplying ecosystem services like water and air purification, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, erosion and flood control.
The trees planted by Forests for Monarchs are helping to preserve the remaining natural forests in the areas where we work, so they can continue to provide a home for wildlife. The growing trees planted by our project help regulate the local climate. Even young forest plots provide important habitat for small wildlife, including songbirds. Some may even provide roosting sites for colonies of Monarchs.