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10 Tips to Help Prevent Tropical Rainforest Deforestation

Thursday 24 September 2009
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Every hour over ten thousand people are born in different parts of the world that’s three humans every second. The human population has now reached over 6 billion and is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050, stabilizing at some point in the future between 9 to 12 million. This phenomenal increase in humans has brought about large scale changes to the biosphere and atmosphere as humans rush to claim the earths finite resources to match the consumer lifestyle that people in the developed world, and increasingly more the developing world, lead. One such over-consumed ecosystem is the tropical rainforest which is being deforested at an alarming rate to fuel human consumerism.

Tropical rainforests form a lush but now fragmented green belt around the earth’s equator. They are the most bio-diverse ecosystems on earth. Tropical rainforests cover just six percent of the worlds land mass yet they harbor half of the world’s land species. Tropical rainforests in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru comprise two percent of the earth’s surface and yet contain the highest biodiversity of plants on earth having some 40, 000 species of plants. Indeed seventy percent of all the world’s plants are found in tropical rainforest. Moreover, it is believed that fifty percent of all species currently on earth live in rainforests estimated to be between one to fifteen million species.

Tropical rainforests hold a plethora of insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles far exceeding any ones most vivid imagination before their discovery. There are the great apes such as the formidable mountain gorillas in central Africa, the chimpanzees, our closest living animal relatives and orangutans. Other mammals include different species of tigers, jaguars, monkeys, slow loris and even slower sloths, deers such as the diminutive, shy, knee high lesser mouse deer, forest elephants, the bizarre and elusive okapi, half striped half chocolate brown and a relative of the giraffe nobly strolling through the rainforests of central Africa daintily feeding on fruits and leaves. There are reptiles such as chameleons with their ability to change into a multitude of colours, amphibians such as frogs resembling bird droppings and the splendid tree frog with its green upper body, yellow under body and bright red eyes ringed in black.

There are hundreds of thousands of insects including insects resembling leaves and sticks, a diverse array of beetles and thousands of coloured butterflies darting in and out of the leaves in a rainbow of colours. Bird life is also prolific and there are a multitude of coloured birds including parrots and toucans, and parakeets darting in and out of the trees. As well as the rich biodiversity and aesthetic appeal, tropical rainforests provide a home to many indigenous people with rich and unique cultures. Tropical rainforests also provide foods, medicines, and other resources.

Think of the jungle fowl, from which we derived chickens, nuts such as brazil nuts, bananas, chocolate and spices, anti-cancer drugs from the Madagascan periwinkle, quinine from cinchona bark, rubber for tyres and other uses tapped from rubber trees and many other yet undiscovered foods, medicines and products. All these products can be harvested sustainably to provide peoples needs and benefit local people and the economy. Tropical rainforests are essential for local climate and the global climate being important for water and carbon cycles. Vast amounts of water are taken up by rainforest trees and vegetation and released again during transpiration. This natural cycling of water maintains the local climate and prevents flooding.

Tropical rainforests are being deforested at an alarming rate. Each year hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforests are being opened for logging and then for clearance for plantations for planting sugar cane, for bio-fuels, for growing oil palm plantations and for raising cattle. All of these practices provide short term gains and in their wake some 2 or 3 years later leave a dust bowl where a rainforest once stood.  Tropical rainforests are complex ecosystems and nutrients from fallen leaves and debris are quickly recycled in the hot, humid environment and reabsorbed by the trees and vegetation. This rapid recycling of nutrients into the trees means that the soil is nutrient poor, and after the trees are removed the soil quickly becomes depleted of nutrients and is unable to support plantations or cattle and the land is soon barren and abandoned. The barren land is exposed to the elements and wind and rain soon wash away the top soil until a dust bowl remains. The top soil is washed away to lower ground and silts up rivers leading to localized flooding of villages and towns.

Without tropical rainforest trees and vegetation to take up water the water cycle changes and there is further and more extensive flooding. Carbon dioxide is no longer fixed into vegetation and carbon dioxide levels rise leading to enhanced global warming and climate change on a global scale. It is estimated that deforestation accounts for 25% of the annual emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases. Saving tropical rainforests is at the heart of preventing climate change. The deforestation of tropical rainforests is leading to a phenomenal loss of global biodiversity and the consequent loss of medicines, foods and other resources. Deforestation is also leading to localized changing weather patterns, flooding and an increase in carbon emissions and climate change. The loss of the rainforests is affecting the entire planet and needs to be halted right now. So, what can you do to prevent deforestation?

10 tips to prevent deforestation!

1) Look at the ingredients of cereals, cereal bars and other products you buy and don’t buy products with palm oil in unless it is sustainably produced.

2) Do not buy timber products from tropical hardwoods buy timber products that have been grown sustainably in carefully managed forests.

3) Buy tea and coffee that is grown sustainably and do not buy these products if grown on cleared rainforest. Think before you drink.

4) Do not buy soya grown on cleared rainforests.

5) Do not buy meat grown on cleared rainforests.

6) Do not buy products from large commercial companies which are involved in clearing rainforests for cattle ranching.

7) Join Our Future Planet and contribute to discussions on how to save the rainforests.

8) Join an organization that plays an active role in rainforest conservation such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Worldwide Fund for Nature.

9) Write to your Prime Minister or president urging him or her to fund rainforest conservation and not to use taxes to fund destructive projects.

10) Organise support for rainforests through youth groups, political parties and conservation organisations.

What are your views?  Add your comment below. We welcome your thoughts and proposals. Not a Planetary Citizen? Sign up


Comments (5)Add Comment
October 18, 2009
Votes: +16

i think deforestation is awful and should be stopped

June 26, 2010
Votes: -11

I had the pleasure of meeting Norm Hann just before he began his 365 km

treelovers Treehuggers
December 02, 2010
Votes: -4

I'm glad i found ur blog.Not everyone can provide information with proper flow. Good post.
I am going to save the URL and will definitely visit again. Keep it up.

treelovers Treehuggers
December 02, 2010
Votes: +9

I'm glad i found ur blog.Not everyone can provide information with proper flow. Good post.
I am going to save the URL and will definitely visit again. Keep it up.

February 24, 2011
Votes: +18

Can you suggest more points which are more affective on how to save the forests? The ones given above are not too affective..(sorry) There are still millions of people who use those products and most of us cant check and research into each and evey product to check whether they are by companies or made by products that do not take part in the tropical rainforest destruction. How about points like teaching farmers about crop rotation so that they don't clear trees for new lands after using up only one type of mineral in their current land.

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