You can help save rainforests
As much as we’re part of the problem, we’re also part of the solution to saving rainforests. For example, companies respond to consumer dollars. If we demand products that are free of rainforest destruction, companies will be pressured to adopt policies that better protect forests. This is already happening: since 2013 dozens of companies have adopted zero deforestation policies for sourcing palm oil, wood pulp for paper, beef and leather, and soybeans. We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but progress is being made.
Bold new ideas are being proposed to save rainforests. For example, governments and companies are finally starting to recognize the value of goods and services afforded by healthy forests, including carbon storage, buffering against flood and drought cycles, and safeguarding water supplies. Accordingly these values are being used as another justification for protecting forests.
Another recent development has been the acknowledgement that local and indigenous communities are often some of the best stewards of forests. As such, they are increasingly being viewed as partners, not adversaries in conservation. There is a growing movement to help these communities win the legal right to manage their traditional lands instead of letting the government hand out concessions to companies that clear forests for plantations and commercial farms.
Additionally, we now have a better understanding than ever before of what’s happening to forests. Between “eyes in the sky” in the form of satellites and eyes on the ground in the form of camera traps and sensors, citizen journalists and scientists, and an ever-expanding network of scientists, conservationists, and environmentalists, forests are being monitored far more effectively than just a few years ago. Knowing what is happening to forests empowers us to do something about it.
Rainforest help fight global warming
When plants grow they sequester atmospheric carbon in their tissues via the process of photosynthesis. Because rainforests are full of large trees and other plants, they store massive amounts of carbon. But when they are burned or chopped down, much of that carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (nitrous oxide, methane, and other nitrogen oxides). The clearing and burning of tropical forests and peatlands accounts for about ten percent of greenhouse gases from human activities.
Therefore rainforest protection and restoration are critical to slowing climate change. Virtually all deforestation is driven by human activity. The biggest drivers of deforestation are agriculture both industrial and subsistence and cattle ranching. Much of this production is not consumed locally instead it is sent to cities or overseas. That means consumers who may live far away from rainforests are usually at least partly responsible for the destruction of these beautiful and important landscapes.