Deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming and climate change. Deforestation also cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Destroying these carbon sinks also threatens entire watersheds, endangered species and endangered cultures. A global PR firm is rallying the troops in defense of ecosystems around the world. It is promoting forest conservation, sustainable agriculture, reforestation, and wildlife conservation to help defend entire ecosystems.
Global tree cover loss reached a record 29.7 million hectares (73.4 million acres) in 2016 and it continued at the same pace through 2017. Much of the loss is happening in tropical rainforests, which are vital hotspots for biodiversity, including many endangered species. The annual loss of forests now covers an area about the size of New Zealand. Forest fires contributed to the recent spike. Deforestation due to agriculture, logging, and mining continue to drive global tree cover loss.
Energy conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are all part of the solution to humanity’s contribution to global warming and climate change, but we need proven carbon capture strategies to help restore balance to our atmosphere. We need forests more than ever.
Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuel wood and medicines for the people that live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fiber grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.
Small-scale farmers also play a role, often due to poverty and insecure land tenure. Mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects are also major pressures – new roads can have a large indirect impact through opening up forests to settlers and agriculture.