Our solutions

Saving forests
31 March 2010

We can't have a healthy planet without stopping the destruction of the world's forests.

They might seem far away - but our lifestyles in the UK are contributing to the loss of vast areas of forests - and there's a lot we can do to help protect them.

Forests for life

Forests are a critical part of our life-support system because they:

  • Absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide - a climate-changing gas
  • Keep millions of important species alive
  • Help prevent soil erosion.

 

And it's not just about plants and animals. Around 1.6 billion people rely on forests in some way. Some 60 million indigenous people depend on them for:

  • Livelihoods
  • Food and medicines
  • Building materials.

People in developing countries should be able to protect natural habitats they depend on for a decent quality of life.

But forests are disappearing at an incredible rate - we're losing an area of forests the size of 36 football pitches per minute. By 2020 they could be gone completely in Indonesia.

Threats to forests

Forests are vanishing because of:

  • Demand for new farmland
    Forests are cut down to grow crops to feed cattle and biofuels for cars in the UK.
  • Climate change
    Rising temperatures kill species and increase the likelihood of forest fires.
  • Unfair trade rules
    Big business gets easy access to timber in the developing world - and local people's rights are ignored.

Forests and the food industry

Huge areas of forest and many well-loved animals are directly threatened by the global meat and dairy industry.

The destruction of rainforest in Brazil has killed off all but 150 Golden Lion Tamarins. Their habitat has been trashed by animal feed plantations and roads.

It's a similar pattern in many of the world's forests - from South-East Asia to South America and Africa. 95% of Paraguay's Atlantic Forest has been wiped out.

Cheap animal feed for factory farms in the UK is being grown on massive plantations where lush rainforests once stood.

Today meat and dairy production uses more land than any other human activity - and it's one of the biggest global contributors to climate-changing emissions.

We can help save forests - and do our climate a favour - by revolutionising the food chain.

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© Tom Picken/Friends of the Earth

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