Forests are one of the most important features of our planet, responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, providing oxygen, supporting wildlife, and many more. Trees cover over 30% of the earth’s land, however they are in danger now due to deforestation. Deforestation, or the action of clearing a wide area of trees, is on the rise globally, making way for agricultural expansion, wood extraction such as logging, and expansion of infrastructure such as roads. Deforestation comes with severe consequences for the planet and the humans and animals that inhabit it.
Each year, we lose over 5 million hectares of forest, with 95% of this deforestation taking place in the tropical regions of the world. Brazil and Indonesia account for almost half of tropical deforestation, and is also prevalent in the rest of the Americas and parts of Africa. Beef related deforestation is responsible for 41% of total deforestation, as massive amounts of land are necessary for grazing livestock and for food production for livestock. This figure is increasing as developing countries are catching up to developed countries that are the major consumers of meat. Another problematic product that contributes to deforestation is palm oil, which is in high demand due to its presence in a variety of products, including food, fuel, cleaning products, and more. Over 300 football fields worth of land are cleared for palm oil plantations every hour. Deforestation also greatly contributes to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. Due to forest loss, 5 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, which is nearly 10% of human emissions annually.
There are many organizations that are working to combat deforestation, through monitoring and providing information, advocating for policy change, empowering indigenous communities, and sustainability initiatives. Some of the most reputable organizations include:
- Amazon Watch
- Conservation International
- Rainforest Action Network
- Rainforest Alliance
- Trees for the Future
Individually, there are a few key ways that one can help support the movement to end deforestation. One of the best ways is to support and donate to organizations that are working on the ground and interacting with governments. Another is to sign petitions and look out for other advocacy opportunities. Going paperless is also a great way to reduce your consumption that increases deforestation, and many companies offer paperless receipts, bills, and mail that would otherwise end up as waste. When buying products made from wood, buy products that are certified by organizations such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which ensure that the wood harvested is managed with social and environmental responsibility. Finally, staying educated on the issues, and starting conversations within your community is a great way to spread awareness.
We wish you the best on your journey to greener living. Be sure to look out for more tips in future articles, and feel free to contact us if there is a topic you would be interested to learn about; chances are people in the Flourish community are looking for the same information, and we’ll give you a shout-out for your participation!