Forests: much more than just a collection of trees
Forests add an unquantifiable amount of life and value to our planet. Luscious greenery, clean air, birds singing... You're immediately invigorated and at peace with the world... Inspiring isn’t it?
Forests currently cover a third of Earth's land mass. As things stand, they house approximately 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Unless we start taking better care of our forests, there won’t be much left of them for future generations to experience.
Forests are vital
A forest is so much more than just a collection of trees. It’s easy to underestimate the impact that forests have on our daily lives. It’s estimated that 1.6 billion people depend on forests for medicine, food, shelter, fuel, and occupation. Breakfast cereals, fruits, nuts, medicinal herbs, paper, lumber and firewood can all be traced back to ingredients sourced from forests.
Forests, along with oceans, help absorb global emissions and carbon dioxide that circulates our atmosphere. Forests are referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’ with good reason. In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, they release oxygen and help keep Earth’s climate stabilised. As Prince Charles put it: “Forests are the world’s air-conditioning system - the lungs of the planet - and we are on the verge of switching them off.”
What’s causing deforestation?
Merriam-Webster’s definition of ‘deforestation’ is as frightening as it is succinct: ‘the action or process of clearing out forests.’ It’s alarming to think that humankind finds ways to justify the clearing out of forests. Nevertheless, this is a very real issue that affects us all. Why are forests being cleared out?
Palm oil plantations
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil. In fact, it’s estimated that half of all the products you find in supermarkets contain palm oil. It’s appealing to manufacturers due to its low cost and versatility. Major chocolate brands, peanut butter, ice cream, bread, shampoo, and cosmetics have all been known to contain palm oil.
Palm oil has become so popular that people have decided to clear forests in order to grow more palm trees. Worryingly, the palm oil market is expected to reach $92.84 billion in 2021.
Illegal logging is the harvesting of wood that goes against national regulations. This practise exists due to an increasing demand for products such as paper and timber. On a grand scale, illegal logging hinders any government that tries to manage forests sustainably. It also contributes to conflicts with local populations who rely so heavily on these forests for resources.
Furthermore, illegal logging poses a threat to biodiversity while emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, 32 million acres of forest per year were cut and burned between 2000 and 2009 alone.
Industrial agriculture seeks to mechanize the growing, harvesting, and processing of food. Large corporations look to make every natural step in the life cycle of a plant or crop more ‘efficient’. This is done through a combination of science and engineering.
Nearly 60% of the world’s arable land is used to produce beef. This naturally requires large amounts of land to be cleared and used for grazing cattle and cultivating feed crops such as soy. The problems do not end there. Monoculture farming exhausts the already thin layer of nutrients in tropical soils. Runoff from agricultural land pollutes the water and large farms produce virtually no wildlife habitats.
Countless hectares of forest are lost to fires each year. Even though fires are part of nature, they can have devastating effects on forests which have already been depleted and degraded. Examples of degraded forests are those which have been heavily logged, forests on peat soils, and forests cleared for plantations.
According to National Geographic, approximately 76,000 fires were burning across the Amazon rainforest at the last official count. Not all fires are caused naturally. Fire is often used as a method for clearing land to plant crops. Fires expose forests to invasive species and threaten biological diversity
Precious metals and gemstones can be found in rainforests around the world, leading to mining activity. It’s a sad fact that mining projects go hand in hand with major infrastructure construction. This means more power stations, railway lines, and roads. Mining can have a devastating impact on the area’s water drainage, polluting water with run-off from the mine. It also poses a threat to indigenous people, who rightly feel aggrieved by encroachment onto their land.
How can we make a difference?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed at the scope of deforestation. After all, is there anything you can really do to tackle it? The answer is yes, there is. There are choices you can make that may seem small to you but they have the potential to influence others. Here are some ways you can begin to make a difference today:
The importance of planting trees resonates very much with every member of Click & Grow. Every year the company plants as many trees as indoor gardens it has sold. Why not start a tree planting tradition in your family or business? By planting trees, you’re providing a future habitat for birds and other wildlife, as well as fighting climate change.
Stop unnecessary printing
Do you really need to print that document? With the increase in technology and online gatherings, there’s very little reason to still be printing. Save paper and make use of computer files and folders, send documents by email and prepare presentations electronically.
Use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products
If you see the FSC logo on a wood or paper based product, it means it has been made with wood from FSC certified forests or from post-consumer waste. The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent, non-profit organization that helps protect forests for future generations.
Make sustainable choices
By making conscious daily choices, you can start to live more sustainably. Avoiding single-use packaging and choosing responsibly-produced wood products are excellent places to start. You can also eat more sustainably by growing food at home in an indoor garden. Click & Grow has a great range of gardens and organic plants to choose from. Homegrown food contains no harmful chemicals and has not made use of fertilizers or pesticides.
Avoid products containing palm oil
Considering the adverse effects of palm oil plantations, it makes sense to avoid buying palm oil products. If you see the word ‘palm’ on the back of any store products, it is safest to avoid it. Watch out, though. Sometimes companies will deceptively use alternative names for palm oil. Examples of this are: ‘cetyl alcohol’, ‘emulsifiers’, ‘glyceryl stearate’, ‘lauryl sulphate’, ‘sodium kernelate’ and ‘stearic acid’. Cutting out palm oil products can be tricky at first. If each person would cut down their palm oil consumption by at least 50%, though, companies might get the message.
Donate to organisations that fight deforestation
Rainforest Alliance, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Conservation International are some of the biggest environmental organisations making strides to tackle issues such as deforestation. Donations can help them raise more awareness of the impact our actions have on the environment. Other non-profit organisations such as One Tree Planted plant trees in North America, Latin America, Asia, Australia and Africa. If we all gave just a little of our time and money to support such causes, who knows what could be achieved?
To learn more about what we believe in, visit us at www.clickandgrow.com.
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