How can you reduce and prevent deforestation from home?
Every 1.2 seconds, we destroy a section of forest the size of a football field; the cumulative impacts means we have now destroyed around 46% of all the world’s forests.
Deforestation comes in many forms, and can include fires, clear cutting for agriculture, ranching, illegal / unsustainable logging, or degradation due to climate change.
Sadly, more than half the world’s timber and almost three-quarters of paper is consumed by 22% of the worlds population. In some cases, industrialised countries are now consuming twelve-times the amount of timber products than their non-industrialised counterparts, and the global environmental impact is significant.
The dangers of deforestation
Rainforests are teeming with life, offering some of the most biodiverse and vibrant eco-systems on the planet. The Amazon alone is home to 3 million species, but all of these could disappear if we don’t stop deforestation. At its current rate, it is predicted to destroy all rainforests within 100 years.
Biodiversity loss is not the only reason to protect our forests. Trees are the lungs of our planet and provide a critical function in the maintenance of clean air. They essentially store carbon dioxide and create oxygen - enough in fact that an acre of mature trees provides enough oxygen in one year for 18 people. When we cut down a tree this air-cleaning function ceases, it also means the carbon dioxide stored in the tree will be released back into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.
Deforestation can also exacerbate extreme weather patterns. Trees root systems serve as anchor that holds the soil together, forming a barrier that prevents erosion while facilitating the absorption of rainfall into the ground. Without roots, the risk of flooding, erosion and landslide increases substantially. Furthermore, cash crops (coffee, soy and palm oil) that are often grown after clear cutting or burning sections of forest, can actually compound soil erosion as their roots system do not hold the soil like a tree would.
5 ways to prevent deforestation from home
Thankfully, there are steps we can all take in our everyday life to prevent deforestation. Here are 5 ways you can help protect our forests.
1. Recycle paper and cardboard
Preventing deforestation can be as simple as recycling your paper and cardboard - meaning less new paper. For every 1000kg of paper recycled, 17 fewer trees are cut down. These 17 trees will go on to sequester 125kg of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
2. Buy only FSC certified wood
Ensure any wood products you purchase have been sourced responsible by looking for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This ensures you are not supporting unsustainable or illegal logging while also supporting companies that respect the rights of indigenous people.
3. Avoid palm oil or only buy sustainable palm oil
Palm oil is included in around 50% of all packaged items, so it’s important to make sure that any palm oil we purchase is certified as ‘deforestation free’. This sustainable certification means it is produced by companies that work with local people and use existing plantations without cutting down more rainforest. If you can’t find it, demand it.
4. Plant trees and support community forestry projects
Reforesting areas damaged by deforestation can help undo some of the damage, although trees take decades to establish again. Whether you plant a tree in your back garden or support a charity or community project planting trees around the world, you’re still making a positive difference - plus being outdoors is very good for wellbeing.
5. Eat less meat and animal products
Eating less meat reduces the demand for grazing land and the associated soy production to feed the livestock we eat - meaning more trees can be saved/and or planted. Around 70% of the amazon rainforest clearing is undertaken to make way for cattle ranches.