Why should we take care of the rainforest?
A reflection on World Rainforest Day
By Laura Finnegan Ecopipo UK
Hello, I hope you are very well, today I would like to tell you a little bit about World Rainforest Day. You might wonder what is special about this day and probably you have not planned to go to the jungle on holidays, because it is very hot and there are bugs and vermin.
But imagine that, although we live very far this forest and they only occupy 2% of our planet, our life depends to a large extent on them – they provide raw materials for 25% of all the patent medicines that we use every day, and more than 50% of all plant and animal species live there.
Unfortunately, most governments have not recognized its vital importance and therefore have not regulated harmful activities such as indiscriminate logging, mining, livestock, and agriculture, as well as the exploitation of oil.
For example, palm oil is used today in a wide variety of everyday products, including cosmetics, cleaning products, and many processed foods, leading to extensive deforestation in the rainforests of Southeast Asia.
In the last 10 years, palm oil plantations have doubled to supply global demand, slash and burn causes forest fires that threaten biodiversity as they destroy the habitats of important species such as orangutans, tigers, rhinos, and elephants.
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In addition, the smoke from the burned areas releases polluting material that causes severe health problems and premature deaths among the population of that region.
Not only the cultivation of palm oil affects the rainforests, in fact, many activities of our daily life negatively impact these regions of the world.
For example, think of a product made of paper or cardboard that you have at home and it was probably produced using trees from the rain forests, especially if it is very cheap.
In fact, every minute that passes the planet loses an area equivalent to 10 soccer fields and this does not stop, it happens day and night, even while you sleep, which means that 360 soccer fields are cut down per hour or 8,640 per hour! day! This is terrible, don’t you think?
Another activity that you cannot even imagine is directly related to the use of tropical forests are technological devices, especially those operated with batteries, such as cell phones, computers, laptops. All of them require minerals to manufacture the batteries and as demand increases, the areas used for mining increase.
Do you know where the meat in your burgers comes from?
Extensive livestock is the number 1 cause of deforestation in all the states of the Amazon region, in fact, this type of livestock, which feeds international hamburger consortiums, and countries like China, contributes to 80% of the deforestation of the area. This without taking into account that these cattle release 340 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, almost 4% of the total global carbon emissions.
In general, all human activities disturb the atmosphere and increase the incidence and severity of floods, droughts, forest fires, and other climate-related events.
Rainforests help reduce these effects since they literally suck up large concentrations of carbon, However, the destruction of the rainforest deprives the Earth of a crucial buffer against climate change.
Sadly, those who benefit the most from activities that drive deforestation and climate change are at a comfortable distance from its impacts, and the worst impacts of deforestation and climate change fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest and most marginalized people.
For this reason, it is essential that we understand that this capture of CO2 emissions is essential to achieve the current global climate goals.
Temperate forests and rainforests are the only safe, natural, and proven carbon capture and storage mechanism available on a large scale.
Stopping deforestation and restoring degraded forests can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 24-30 percent.
The reality is that the longer the world waits before reversing current deforestation trends, the more the remaining forests’ ability to capture and store carbon is eroded.
Among the strategies available to reduce the emissions that cause climate change, the protection of tropical forests together with temperate forests is one of the most viable strategies.
What can I do to help combat deforestation? Especially because I live far from there or because I have no say in crucial decisions to save these habitats.
You can help individually by planting a tree. Each and every tree on the planet contributes to reducing the negative effects of deforestation. The most effective thing is that you make decisions in your daily life that help reduce deforestation when you buy when you eat and even when you transport from one place to another. Your little effort, even if it seems like just one step, is the beginning of a long journey and if many of us take these little steps all together we can make a real impact to reduce global deforestation.
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Here are some tips for actions that you can take to directly contribute to reducing deforestation:
- Appreciate and care for all the trees around you.
- Plant trees where you can
- Do not use paper to print and whenever you can use only electronic documents.
- Recycle all the paper and cardboard that comes into your life. 2,000 pounds of paper and cardboard (900 kg) avoid cutting 17 trees and these 17 trees trap 250 pounds (120 kg) of CO2. If only 10% of all paper and cardboard were recycled, millions of trees would be saved that could absorb millions of tons of CO2.
- Check that the paper you use is recycled, including toilet paper, and avoid using single-use paper as kitchen napkins.
- Switch to reusable cloth nappies and pads, since each baby in disposable diapers needs 5 trees for the more than 4000 disposable diapers that are needed in less than 3 years. In Europe, this represents almost 21 million trees per year to produce disposable diapers. Unfortunately, to make cheap disposable diapers you must use cheap paper and this paper comes from immoderate and unregulated logging, 50% of logging in the paper world is not regulated or certified for sustainability!
- Reduce your use of disposable plastic, as this reduces the need to extract oil.
- Buy only wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
- Reduce your consumption of meat, it is the only way to reduce the clearing of the forest to create grazing pastures.
- Say no to meat from tropical areas like Brazil, for example. Most of these animals are raised in pastures that were previously part of the Amazon jungle. This means that you need to read the labels of what you buy, it will take a little time, but soon you will know what to buy and what not to buy!
- Whenever you can buy organic food, remember that it is better to buy less and not waste, than to buy cheap and throw it away.
- Say no to palm oil, you don’t need it, your body doesn’t need it and it is honestly wiping out our beautiful planet. If the label does not say that it is of sustainable origin DO NOT BUY IT! Keep in mind that palm oil is not only found in food, but also in beauty and cleaning products such as creams, soaps, and toothpaste. If you want your grandchildren to have a world to live in, you need to check the labels and do not buy products that have palm oil.
- Supports small and medium industries that produce environmentally friendly products and that make efforts to reduce damage to the environment and why not support Ecopipo, a company that strives every day to produce ecological diapers that help you to leave a clean world for your children and your grandchildren.
- Respect the rights of indigenous peoples. Ancestral land management is undoubtedly the best way to preserve these fragile ecosystems.
- Take care of your technological devices and use them until they stop serving, thus reducing the amount of minerals such as lithium, copper and tin that is needed to make your batteries.
Every day make a little effort to carry out these actions, over time they will become part of your life and your positive impact will be greater!
Always listen to your inner voice that tells you what you should not do, it is good to fear that little voice since it speaks to you from the depths of your heart.
And remember, it is never too late for you to start contributing to reducing deforestation. Keep in mind that as the Earth’s temperature continues to rise, the continued deterioration of forests and the resulting damage to people and ecosystems, makes the need to save these precious ecosystems urgent before it is too late.