Ways to help stop deforestation and take action
69 football fields’ worth of trees are cut down every minute, amounting to around 260,000 sq. km of forests torn down every year. That’s roughly the size of the United Kingdom!
250 million people who depend on trees for subsistence farming and income have already suffered or are at risk due to the deforestation of the forests. Tearing them down also makes these populations, as well as 80% of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity extremely vulnerable. Approximately 8000 species are at risk of becoming extinct every year. It is clear that deforestation is occurring at an unsustainable rate and has already impacted the lives of millions in adverse ways.
Deforestation is also a leading cause of climate change. If tropical deforestation were a country, according to the World Resources Institute, it would rank third in carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, behind China and the U.S. Due to the carbon dioxide emitted through deforestation, we are facing increasingly severe and frequent climate change-induced disasters such as hurricanes and droughts.
Main Drivers of Deforestation
So why is there so much deforestation? We’ve been told to go paperless where possible, and while there is still progress to be made on this topic, there are much larger causes of deforestation that need to be tackled.
Farming, grazing of livestock, mining, and drilling account for more than half of all deforestation. Farming and livestock grazing go hand in hand – this is for two reasons: 1) land is utilized for growing the crops that feed the animals, and 2) land is a necessity for animals to graze on. Particularly, industrial farming continues to destroy increasing amounts of forests. Mining and drilling for resources, including oil, also require a lot of space and therefore result in thousands of hectares of trees being cleared. It also contaminates soil and water, further amplifying the effects of deforestation on local people and biodiversity.
Forestry practices (including logging), wildfires, and urbanisation also contribute to deforestation. Logging mostly contributes to paper and timber production. A big side effect of logging is the roads that are often illegally paved inside of forests (further deforesting the area) to reach remote areas for logging. Wildfires are often magnified in impact due to climate change – dry conditions and hotter weather means that fires spread more easily. In the Australian wildfires of 2020, almost 3 billion animals were estimated to have been affected or killed by the fire. And in California, the wildfires of 2020 were estimated to have destroyed over 10,000 structures, including the homes of thousands of people. Urbanisation is another primary cause of deforestation – as populations grow, more space has to be cleared for housing, which oftentimes ends up carving deep into the surrounding forests.
Ways to Help
There are many ways in which we can fight for the world’s forests.
As a consumer your power is essential to stopping deforestation. There are environmentally and forest friendly businesses that are helping the cause.
- Support them by promoting their products.
- Buy recycled products and then recycle them again.
- Buy certified wood products and read the labels of products! Look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark.
Companies are vulnerable to pressure from YOU!
Companies should set targets to maximize the use of recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their products. For the non-recycled products they buy, they should ensure it was sourced in a legal way that respects principles of environmental and social responsibility. Holding suppliers accountable for producing commodities in ways that do not fuel deforestation and have minimal impact on our climate and world.
Stand with Indigenous Peoples:
Forests around the world have been home to indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years. When Indigenous peoples’ rights to traditional lands are respected, forests stay standing, however corporations and governments often disrespect these rights and overrun them. Ensure that your governments only source forest commodities in a way that ensures the protection of nature and respects all human rights.
Putting an end to deforestation is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to stop global warming. By campaigning to end deforestation, helping to restore forests we can start the fight to solve the climate emergency, protect wildlife, and defend the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional local communities. We are the solution to keeping forests standing!
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