forestBy Bianca

This week, fantastic news has come out of Indonesia. After many years of battles, negotiations and hard work, one of the world’s largest paper companies commits to end deforestation in Indonesia. This is very good news, considering that our Earth’s rainforests are decreasing by an area of the size of Panama each year!

After losing their costumers over the years and having their sister company Golden Agri Resources (GAR) commit to stop deforestation, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has finally followed. This is a major breakthrough and we can only hope that many more companies will follow suit very soon.

Rainforests once covered 14% of the Earth’s surface. Today, they cover a mere 6% with the sad estimation of being fully consumed in less than 40 years.

deforestationEvery second, one and one-half acres of rainforest are lost due to the shortsighted value of land, which is used for agriculture, logging, timber and cattle ranchers. Once the natural cover of the rainforest is destroyed the soil is fully exposed to the sun and quickly dries out, soon turning into a desert.

That not only creates land that is only usable for a short time, but also drives climate change even further as the water cycle is effected and more extreme temperature swings are induced. At the same time thousands of animal and insect species are losing their natural habitats and climate, pushing them towards extinction.

Chief Raoni of the Kayapó people broke down crying when he learned that their land would be used for a hydroelectric plant & dam project, losing nearly a million acres of rainforest and indigenous land!
Chief Raoni of the Kayapó people broke down crying when he learned that their land would be used for a hydroelectric plant & dam project, losing nearly a million acres of rainforest and indigenous land!

But it’s not just animals are pushed to their limits, it’s also our own species. With the destruction of the forest we are destroying the homes of many indigenous people who are still living in the forests, fighting for their lives and homes. We also destroy many plants and trees that could be used for medicine. So far only a small percentage of our pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients and scientists have tested less than 1% so far, hoping to find possible cures for many life-threatening diseases.

But it’s not just about the biodiversity our natural rainforests provide, they are also the planet’s “lungs”. Our rainforests are the world’s largest recycling factory by recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen with more than 20% produced alone in the Amazon Rainforest. Rainforests are not just incredible and beautiful but they are essential for us to survive!

p.s. For those of you curious about the story behind the picture of Chief Raoni above…

“Chief Raoni of the Kayapó people broke down crying when he learned that the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff. approved construction to begin on the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant & dam project on  Xingu indigenous lands.

If it does go through as planned, the Belo Monte dam will inundate nearly a million acres of rainforest & indigenous lands.” (from Indigenize)

You can sign a petition to stop the dam being built here.