Satellite images of what until only a few years ago was a rich and abundant rainforest teaming with life, thousands of creatures per square meter, some rare, some endangered, some never seen by human eyes. Now show nothing but a deserted and desolate arid wasteland upon which little grows next to a track that heavy trucks use to cart timber and equipment from the remaining patch of forest now miles away. The statistics are equally desolate 80% of all forested areas have been compromised since 2003.
As deforestation continues unabated the remaining pockets of forest get smaller and smaller and more widely dispersed. Controlling deforestation is a divisive issue. We can plot the rate of the rainforests disappearance, but are we simply plotting our own demise. If we are no careful we may find nature flourishing without us there to witness it. Only now are we waking up to the fact that we need to do something and fast as it may already be too late.
If we don’t act then all life on the planet may be at risk. Forests are the lungs of the planet keeping the atmosphere supplied with oxygen and taking out carbon dioxide and storing it in the plant’s cells. This finely tuned system is being affected by man as once a tree is burned carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and with far fewer trees much less oxygen is being released. This system is what makes the planet habitable for all life. We should be thanking and preserving the forests for this life giving service not destroying and abusing it. We need to restore this natural balance before things get out of control.
Simple things you can do to preserve the planet
Though distant forests seem miles away from your life living in the urban or suburban sprawl the choices you make daily influence the lives of plants and creatures on every continent. One example of this is palm oil, used in a wide variety of products found on your supermarket shelf. Palm oil comes from the Indonesian islands such as Borneo, where rainforest is cut down to supply room for evermore of this crop. Without the heavy canopy and root system of the rainforest the soil quickly erodes and nothing can grow not even oil palms so more land has to be found. This trade is quickly driving the orangutan to extinction in the wild. A simple choice not to buy products containing palm oil can make a huge difference. This is just one example among many but by being aware of where the things you buy and use daily come from and how they are produced allows you to make decisions, which will help save the planet. The two simple rules are buying local (less food miles) and buy only sustainable or recyclable products.
Other things you can do include using energy and fuel efficiently and as little as possible by making our home, work and transport as carbon neutral as possible. Minimizing our carbon footprint doesn’t mean cycling everywhere or sitting in a cold damp house through the winter, it just means not wasting energy; by not leaving electric items on standby and switching off what we don’t need. Making sure our appliances and cars are as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible and going for those green energy tariffs.
One thing we can all do is lobby government to make the necessary large-scale changes in legislation needed to preserve the environment. However there is no need to wait for government action, you have the power to act now!
The deforestation of the planet will only stop if enough people say No! The decision rests with humanity; the consequences of this decision are immense and will influence the lives and deaths of millions. Many thousands of lives have already been lost to global warming and preserving the forests may be the factor that tips the scales back into our favor.