You Can Help Stop Deforestation
“…About half of the world’s countries have halted or reversed forest loss. So the answer to the question of whether deforestation is inevitable must be ‘no.’” – UN Food and Agriculture Organization, State of the World’s Forests 2012
What NEEDS to Happen
Forests need to be protected because they form part of our life support system, providing oxygen, carbon capture and sequestration, water filtration, soil stability, medicines, and more. Seventy percent of the world’s forests are now gone, and they need to be brought back!
Learn the REAL Value of Forests
Deforestation is occurring due to unchecked human expansion and consumption. Our forests are being converted into farmlands, highways, power plants, cities and suburbs. We need our forests; it would cost billions of dollars per year to reproduce forest services through machines and labour. Forests produce oxygen, regulate carbon, absorb water to manage floods, hold the soil on land and filter water. Forests are also home to birds that eat pests, which protects our crops and decreases the need for pesticides.
One study valued Canada’s boreal forest at $190.6 billion per year in ecosystem services, as opposed to the annual $18 billion those trees would fetch on the market if cut down. This figure includes sustainable jobs created by eco-tourism, which educates the public about the value of our forests. More info: http://www.borealcanada.ca Estimating the economic value of forests tells voters and decision-makers that deforestation does not pay. Governments should implement mandatory recycling programs with the goal of 100 percent recycling. It is impossible to truly put a price on Mother Nature. Forest preservation not only has economic value; it is essential for our future.
Use Wood Only from Renewable Resources
Primary forests are not renewable resources. The intact coastal temperate rainforests of Chile, New Zealand, and Canada, for example, are the most diverse in habitat and life. These rich ecosystems were 5,000 years in the making as carbon-storing ecosystems. Millions of hectares have now been cut down, and it may take 5,000 years for these essential ecosystems to recover. Wood can be a renewable resource. We can plant trees as a source of wood or take wood from managed second-growth forests. It is essential that we do not take wood from primary forest ecosystems. Woodcutting consumes less energy than laying of concrete and brick or mining of stone and metal. Sustainable, locally sourced wood can be used for green building and manufacturing. Wood-based fuel, like charcoal for cooking and heating homes, is an alternative to fossil fuels, but only if sourced domestically.
Work the Land Responsibly
The biggest cause of deforestation worldwide is agriculture. In Brazil, up to 30 percent of existing pasture land for cattle is degraded, so farmers clear forests for new land to graze cows. The time and work spent destroying valuable forests could be better spent rehabilitating the land. Plants that create nutrient-rich soil can be planted. Cows and crops can be rotated to give the land a chance to replenish itself. Methods for farmland productivity and soil rehabilitation could increase food production without the loss of precious forest.
Meat is not efficient to produce. Every link up the food chain loses energy. An animal consumes 90 percent of its chemical energy in its lifetime through processes such as digestion and reproduction, leaving only 10 percent of its energy to be passed along to the next tier in the food chain. Cattle make 40 kilograms of manure for every kilogram of edible meat that they produce. People living in developed countries, like those in Europe and North America, eat 2.5 times more meat than the rest of the world. The land is less productive and less people can be fed when it is used to raise animals instead of crops.
No Subsidies for Industrial Farming
The US government paid American farmers more than $277 billion between 1995 to 2011 in subsidies and insurance for corn. More info: http://farm.ewg.org/region.php?fips=00000 It is mostly used to feed cattle and to be burned as fuel; very little of it reaches us as a whole corn on the cob. Subsides are not bad, but the majority of the money is given to the biggest companies and industrial farming instead of to the average farmer. Our governments could and should create subsidies to ensure that locally sourced, organic and sustainable food production is more affordable.
What YOU Can Do
Watch your consumption and make smart consumer choices
- Do you need it? Always ask yourself if you’re buying something you need, or just buying something because you want it. Only buy what you need.
- Can you find it used? We’ve built enough stuff! Entire buildings are constructed out of reclaimed wood. Wood companies making guitars, furniture, and picture frames out of reclaimed wood are becoming increasingly popular. Find what you need used online or at a garage sale — vintage is in!
- Reduce your paper consumption. Print on both sides of the page or not at all. Don’t use paper plates. Take just one napkin at a restaurant. Try using half the toilet paper you normally use. Everytime you touch paper, think about how much you are consuming and the consequences of your actions.
- Forest Stewardship Council approved. If you buy a wood product, be it a house, lumber, a notebook, or toilet paper; make sure it has that FSC stamp of approval. Other certification systems may be less rigorous or funded by big businesses, so don’t accept imitations.
- Buy post-consumer recycled products. If you’re buying “recycled” tree paper or wood, make sure it’s post-consumer recycled. Then you know it has been used already, put in the recycling bin, and remade. Many recycled products are more efficiently made and may simply use wood or paper that the company would otherwise throw out.
- Reduce your consumption of foods that drive deforestation including meat, palm oil, and soy.
- Trees for the Future – http://treesforthefuture.org
We should not be cutting down the primary forest trees that we depend on for survival. Educate your friends and family about the issue and what can be done about it. For more resources on Deforestation, click here.
Teachers and parents are encouraged to educate youth about the issues facing our planet. Check out our Educator’s Guide here.
Join a campaign and support organizations
You can learn more about deforestation, sign petitions, write letters, and volunteer at any of the organizations listed here:
- Amazon Watch – http://amazonwatch.org
- Canadian Forestry Association – http://canadianforestry.com
- Forest Stewardship Council of Canada – https://ca.fsc.org
- Plant for the Planet – http://plant-for-the-planet.org/en
- Rainforest Action Network – http://ran.org
- Rainforest Alliance – http://rainforest-alliance.org
- Trees for the Future – http://treesforthefuture.org
Influence Government Policy
Write a personalized email to every level of government. http://www.parl.gc.ca Find the email addresses of the people who represent you, and call or email to ask them to take action about an aspect of deforestation important to you. Here are a few ideas:
- If you live near a forest, or have a favourite forest you’ve visited, ask them what they are doing to protect it.
- Ask your mayor what they are doing to stop deforestation; urge them to join Meatless Mondays or offset the city’s carbon production by buying carbon credits.
- If you live in the country, ask politicians what they’re doing to support family farmers who are farming sustainably.
- If they don’t answer you, write a follow-up email or send a letter. Remember they represent you! Be persistent but polite, remember, politicians are humans, they too will just delete rude and angry emails.
- Vote responsibly. When elections roll around, ask the candidates tough questions about their support for the environment. Tell all the candidates that this is important to you. If you can, research their voting records and past bills or legislature that addressed environmental concerns.