If Deforestation continues at the current rate, by 2050 the world will have lost tropical forest equivalent to the size of India.
The equivalent of 40 football pitches of tropical forests were lost every minute in 2017.
We've all heard sobering statistics like this before for many years....So exactly why should we be alarmed? Not only do forests harbour an amazing amount of unique flora and fauna, they are also the reason why advanced lifeforms on Earth exist in the first place. Forests are our lungs and we need to act now before we all run out of breath.
Why is there deforestation?
In one word...greed. We've all heard about areas of the tropical forest being carved up by big muliti-national companies to exploit the land for mining and growing crops such as palm oil that go into so many products in the developed world. While there is a demand from a consumer then they will always be someone willing to make money no matter what the cost to these fragile ecosystems. Despite all the progress made recently by companies pledging to reduce deforestation in their supply chains, production of products such as palm oil, soy and beef remain the biggest cause of forest loss.
Currently about 1,500 of the largest mines in the world are in tropical forests and a further 1,800 are under development or currently non-operational. More than half of these mines are in low or lower middle income countries. Forests provide an important carbon sink for mitigating climate change. There was an interesting quote form The World Resources Institute: "if tropical forests combined were a country, deforestation would rank third in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, behind China and the United States."
So how can we save these vital areas of forest? What can we actually do?
There has been some success by altering supply chain approaches and more recognition at a global level, which has raised awareness of the issue. Certification schemes continue to play an important role, and for products such as palm oil and timber there has been up to 20% of production shifted to more sustainable methods.
The only way forward for our forests is for a massive global effort and a change of politics to look for more sustainable and Earth friendly way of using the land. It will take a monumental effort but it is one that we need to address, fast.
"if tropical forests combined were a country, deforestation would rank third in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, behind China and the United States." - World Resources Institute.