The protection of rainforests not only is an important and powerful tool against climate change and global warming but also helps protect local communities and biodiversity that depend on the forest to survive.
of the world’s GHG comes from deforestation
million hectares deforested per year globally
tCO2 stored in 1 hectare of rainforest
It’s easy to feel disconnected from so far away, but without rainforests our health – including the food we eat, the air we breathe, the nature we enjoy, the medicine we use – and many of the products we use every day would be drastically different, or simply not there.
Deforestation can have massive and devastating consequences on ecological and hydrological systems. It disrupts ancient, complex ecosystems, destroying vital habitat for countless plant and animal species. Deforestation is often a key contributing factor to flooding and landslides, and usually leads to increased impoverishment and vulnerability for human communities whose wellbeing is directly dependent on their local environment.
Teeming with life
Rainforests contain around 50% of the world’s species, many of which are endangered – such as jaguars, harpy eagles and pink river dolphins – despite now covering only 6% of land surface. And there are potentially thousands still to be discovered.
From trees which grow up to 150 feet to the ‘understory’ (the part under the leaves but above the ground), each ‘level’ of the rainforest is home to a hundred species per acre of a particular constellation of plants and animals – all equally dependent on its complex ecology.
The heart of many communities
There are about 50,000,000 tribal people living in the world’s rainforests and living from the products that they offer them. These people depend on the forests for their food, water, medicine and shelter, so as we destroy them, we destroy people too. Not only are these peoples’ lives and unique traditions valuable in and of themselves, but they also know the rainforest and its plants intimately. We’re destroying hundreds of years of inherited knowledge which may include important information about the 99% of plants we haven’t yet tested for medicinal qualities.
Home of the globe’s food
80% of the world’s fruit, vegetables and spices – including nuts, tea, sugar, citrus fruits, cacao, bananas, black pepper, chocolate, coffee, corn and pineapple – originated from the rainforest. As a gene pool for most of the world’s fruit and vegetables, rainforests are vital for feeding us into the future as our need for disease-resistant crops grows.
Nature’s largest pharmacy
At least a quarter of the modern medicines we use today – and two-thirds of those with cancer-fighting properties – derive from plants found in the rainforest. And this is just from the 1% that has been tested for medicinal properties; the potential for finding new vaccines is vast.
We need to take action
It’s estimated that more than 50% of the world’s tropical forests – that’s an area 30 times bigger than the UK – have been lost in the last hundred years, usually from the change of land use from forests into agricultural land, biofuel plantations and cattle-grazing pastures.
Global effects: Did you know that…
moisture generated by rainforests affects the entire global water cycle? For instance, scientists have discovered that rainfall created in the Amazon ends up falling as far as Texas, and Southeast Asia rainforests influence southeastern Europe and China.