DEFORESTATION

The Amazon, Congo and Borneo Mekong are the planet's three largest forest basins. They account for 90 per cent of the world's tropical forests, are home to over 60 per cent of biodiversity and over 300 million people, and provide livelihood to more than one billion.

 

Forests are extremely important ecosystems help to regulate the Earth's climate by storing nearly 300 billion tonnes of carbon in their leafy canopies - roughly 40 times the global annual greenhouse gas

emissions from fossil fuels. Huge. They are a massive natrual tool in

protecting the climate from global warming and extracting harmful emissions.

 

They have been doing this for hundreds of billions of years. But over the past 50 years, about 50 per cent of Earth's original forest cover has been lost. By far the most significant cause for this is humans beings and our unsystematic use of its resplendent resources.

 

The agriculture, forestry and land-use sectors account for about a quarter of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are the largest sources after cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.

 

72% of Indonesia's intact forest landscapes and 15% of the Amazon's have already been lost forever. Now the Congo's forests face the same threat. 20% of our oxygen and 10% of known species come from the forest, and it’s our best natural defense to climate change, yet we let it be slashed and burnt and felled and forgotten. According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), deforestation accounts for approximately 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.  

 

 

 

Causes of deforestation and forest degradation

Livestock and crop growing

Industries like paper pulp, palm oil, soy plantations and livestock need space.  Much rainforest is being lost moment by moment to feed our unsustainable desires and ensuing consumer cultures . Apparently we can expect global agricultural cropland to expand by 42% by 2050. 

 

 

Forest fires 

Fires burn away space for conversion. Heavily logged rainforests and peat lands provide unnatural accumulation of vegetation that makes the fire burn more intensely. The resulting loss has devestating consequences on biodiversity, climate, and the economy.

 

 

Illegal and unsustainable logging

Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests across all continents, taking away community livelihoods and distorting trade. Illegally harvested wood finds its way into major consumption markets, such as the U.S., and European Union, which further fuels the cycle. 

 

 

Fuelwood harvesting 

Over-harvesting for domestic use or for commercial trade in charcoal or biomass significantly damages forests.

 

 

Mining

The impact of mining on tropical forests is growing due to rising demand and high mineral prices. Mining projects are often accompanied by major infrastructure construction, such as roads, railway lines and power stations, putting further pressure on forests and freshwater ecosystems. 

 

 

Climate change

Forest loss is both a cause and an effect of our changing climate. Climate change can damage by drying out tropical rainforests and increasing fire damage in boreal forests.

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Impacts of Deforestation

 

Reduced biodiversity

When trees and forest cover is removed, animals are deprived of habitat and are more vulnerable to hunting and danger. 

 

Release of greenhouse gas emissions

The trees in forest are the largest terrestrial store of carbon and deforestation is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after coal and oil. Deforestation itself causes 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions released from the trees and during the process - and the loss of their sequestration capabilities (absorbing CO2) is unfathomable.  Unfortunately, planting more isn't the only answer, as they are still at rick of burning, and having absorbed anthropogenic (human caused) CO2 they are effectively ticking time bombs. 

 

Disrupted water cycles

As a result of deforestation, trees are no longer present to  evaporate groundwater from rain, which instead runs off into river water. This causes the local climate to be much drier and effect. Additionally, with less trees there is less moisture in the air from transpiration, where water exits the leaves during photosynthesis. Ensuringly, there is much less rain cloud formation, providing acceleration of the whole drying process.

 

Increased soil erosion

Deforestation accelerates rates of soil erosion, changing the scope of the land and the fertility of soil for future trees. A lack of trees provides no obstacle for rain and increass runoff which reducing the protection of the soil..

 

Disrupted livelihoods

Millions of people rely directly on forests, through shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering, and by harvesting forest products such as rubber. Deforestation sparks severe social problems and displacement  which can lead to violent conflict.

 

INDUSTRY pressures on WORLD DEFORESTATION AREAS

 

RESOURCES

 

If you need to buy paper or wood, think about your ethical impact. Here are some logos to help:

 

Forest Stewardship Council 

An international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. Criticisms rightly point out it develops massive monoculture farms of trees for commerical use, as well as financial support from massive companiews under FSC regulation. However, this is the strongest widespread standard on forest regulation.

 

Forest Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project works with Invetstors and Companies, and their Forest Program investigates 240 signatories with US$19 trillion in assets behind them. They endeavour to evaluate how companies are addressing deforestation risks. A powerful coalition focusing on five problem areas: ✿ timber products ✿ cattle products ✿ palm oil ✿ soya  ✿ biofuels. 

 

Here you can see participating companies, and non-participating companies from the latest 2014 report to support those making commitments. Debenhams and Papa John's for example, avoid. 

 

 

 

Forest 500

 

The arboreal alternative to Fortune500: The Forest 500 ranks 250 companies, 50 jurisdictions, 150 banks and investors, and 50 ‘powerbrokers’ by the extent and scope of their souring policies to reveal accountability across: ✿ palm oil ✿ soy ✿ beef ✿ leather ✿ timber ✿ pulp and ✿ paper.

 

 

♥ Largely, companies with strong brands and forward facing global do alright, because they must. Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corp. (Japan), Nestle S. A., Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser Group, Unilever and HSBC. ☢ But some perplexingly and unforgivably lage behind. including Domino's, GAP, Kraft (Cadbury's), Heinz, Mitsibushi, Starbucks, Walmart (ASDA).

 

 

Union of Concerned Scientists

 

In 2014, The Union of Concerned Scientists produced a Report Card analysing the 10 biggest coporations across three ssectors: packaged food, personal care, and fast food—and scored them on the extent of their global commitments

 

 

 

WF

 

And in 2013, WWF produced a report on 130 major retailers, food service companies and manufacturers worldwide on how much certified sustainable palm oil they use.

 
 

What can we do

 

Buy local produce - organic, seaonal vegetables from 5 miles away are unlikley to have caused much deforestation

 

Be mindful of the amount of packaging you buy - scale down on everything you possibly can and recycle

 

Bouycott bad companies - they have the power to deforest at disastrous rates, they also have the power to save them

 

Support companies with strong commitments - if we take profit from companies, they will definitely listen

 

Stop consuming beef - livestock farming is responsible for staggering deforestation, CO2 and human rights breaches

 

Understand the problem with palm oil - and buy products only with sustainable supply chains

 

Speak and spread the word and ask questions - be informed and tell people. We are all learning all the time

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