Forests cover a third of all land on Earth, providing vital organic infrastructure for some of the planet’s densest, most diverse collections of life. How can we protect the forests?
Forests cover a third of all land on Earth, providing vital organic infrastructure for some of the planet’s densest, most diverse collections of life. They support countless species as well as 1.6 billion human livelihoods, yet each year, thirteen million hectares of forest disappear from our planet due to human activity, a frenetic pace of 100 square meters per second, mostly caused by agriculture. But how we as individuals can use at home or at work to reduce our impact and help save forests?
1. Use Less Paper
If you buy it, they will log. The more we buy, the more they log. To reduce our demand, we can avoid using paper napkins, plates, cups, and bags. We can buy paper made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, or from hemp, and be sure to recycle all our waste paper. We can remember that wood and paper are not just “stuff”: they are made from the living fabric of our planet, home to a myriad creatures.
At work, first ask yourself if you really need to print a document. You can use tecnology to go paper less: send e-mails instead of faxes or paper mail, and use electronic memos and instead of paper bulletins; read your magazines online and switch to digital books.
2. Eat Less Beef
The insistent demand for hamburgers, steak, and dog food sends a very clear message to the farmers of Central America, and Brazil, who clear the forest to make way for their cattle ranches. In Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, for every cow, 2.5 acres of forest disappear; for every quarter pound hamburger from a cleared rainforest, fifty-five square feet of rainforest is destroyed. A vegetarian needs half an acre for his annual food needs. A meat-eater needs three acres, and increasingly, some of this comes from cleared rainforests. See www.cifor.cgiar.org/publications/pdf_files/media/Amazon.pdf
3. Buy only certified food products from sustainable farming and agriculture
Unsustainable farming and agriculture practices can lead to irreparable environmental damages. When shopping for food products choose foods are produced by responsible companies who don’t harm the environment and respect their work force. Sustainable certification labels are crucial in helping us to make the right choice. You can find many products carrying the label Friend of the Earth. Their mission is to drive agricultural and farming production toward sustainable practices. Only those companies that operate in accordance with sustainable standards receive Friend of the Earth certifications. Check out the Friend of the Earth website to learn more about their activities.
4. Support Rainforest Communities
Nearly 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested, and forest scientists are saying that if it reaches a 40% level of deforestation, the forest will enter a process of desertification that is irreversible. The Rainforest Action Network, based in San Francisco, has a “Protect-an-Acre” program which provides funding to help forest peoples gain legal recognition of their territories. It also helps them to develop locally-based economic alternatives, and resist intrusions by the loggers and oil companies, who are after their land. This is a very specific initiative that you can support now, that will have a specific impact.
5. Share the message
Raising awareness to take responsible action is a simple but important thing you can do. Educate others. Whether it be your children, friends, or colleagues. The more people are aware of what they can do to help prevent deforestation, the better.