Forests cover around 30% of the land area on our planet. They are home to an incredible biodiversity of plants and animals. About 80% of the world’s land animals are living in forests. And they have many essential tasks like purifying water and air. But they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Deforestation and bush fires are the main threats that destroy the woods and leave many species with no habitat.
Forests are essential ecosystems that help balance the climate of the planet. One of the significant roles that forests play is that they provide us oxygen to breathe. And trees help to maintain the balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So to save the forests is an essential part of solving climate change.
What is Deforestation?
We often read the word deforestation, which means that a forest gets cleared so people can use the land for another purpose. Usually, this happens to grow other plants for agriculture or to have space for grazing livestock for the meat industry. But losing forests is much more than just having fewer trees. Forests, especially rainforests, are crucial ecosystems the planet needs to survive. Besides, they are home to countless microorganisms, plants, and animals playing a vital role in keeping those ecosystems alive. Deforestation destroys the complete ecosystem killing many animals that are living in the forests. It takes the forest’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide and even releases it back to the atmosphere, leading to massive emissions when destroying a forest.
Main Reasons for Deforestation
Animal Agriculture / Meat Industry
Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. Up to 90% of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest was because of animal agriculture. The land gets cleared either for livestock to graze or to grow feed crops for the animals. Many species are lost daily because of this deforestation of the rainforest. Only to meet the world’s great demand for meat, complete ecosystems are going extinct. In total, 136 million acres of rainforest got cleared for animal agriculture until today.
Another critical factor of deforestation, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, is palm oil, a component of countless products on the market, especially beauty products and food. Many people are not even aware of how much palm oil they consume because it’s everywhere. With palm oil being such a versatile vegetable oil, the demand is enormous. To grow all that palm oil, immense amounts of monocultural plantations had to get planted. They are a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, the pygmy elephant, and the Sumatran rhino.
Other Reasons for Deforestation
BioFuel was invented as a solution for climate change as a more natural alternative to fossil fuels. BioFuel made from plants needs a large space to grow as well; that is why it does contribute to deforestation, which makes it not a good solution because it may cause more emissions than fossil fuels. Further reasons for deforestation are mining for valuable minerals and logging for wood as a material.
Consequences of Deforestation
Besides the loss of complete ecosystems and the extinction of many species, deforestation leads to soil erosion. A natural forest is part of the climate of its particular area. The trees cover the soil from sunlight and help control the water level in the atmosphere by helping to regulate the water cycle. In deforested areas, there is less water in the air to be returned to the soil. This causes dryer soil and the inability to grow crops. The destruction of the ground worldwide is a huge problem that will impact our food production. Also, this destroyed soil can lead to floods and droughts.
Top 3 things you can do to help save the forests from Deforestation
Plant a tree
Today there are many amazing projects worldwide for reforestation or, in other words, to plant trees. For example, there is Ecosia, a search engine alternative to Google, which plants trees with every search. Just set Ecosia as your standard search engine on your computer, and that’s it! This is an effortless way for us to plant trees without having to spend any money.
Other ways are to support brands that plant trees for every sold product or to donate trees. We work with Ecologi, which is planting trees in different areas of the world. They offer plans we can choose from, like a subscription. We plant 24 trees each month with our plan.
Switch to a plant-based diet
Since Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, especially in the Amazon Rainforest, switching to a plant-based diet significantly reduces deforestation. But a vegan diet is, in general, a more sustainable food choice with using much less water and land and causing fewer emissions.
If you are new to a vegan diet we recommend reading our blog post Top 3 Reasons why you should go plant-based
Top 3 reasons why you should go plant-based
Avoid products containing palm oil
As explained before humanities, high demand for palm oil causes deforestation, so avoiding products containing palm oil makes a big impact. We often use the app CodeCheck when buying a new product. The app helps us detect the ingredients and lets us know if there are toxic chemicals and palm oil in a product. This is especially helpful when buying cosmetics because sometimes the ingredient list is long, and we don’t understand most words. We prefer purchasing all-natural products that we usually buy from small companies.
When it comes to food, we avoid buying processed foods in general as much as possible for health reasons. It’s often those processed foods containing palm oil; for example, a glass of Nutella exists of almost 30% palm oil. In general, the best we can do is to avoid big companies like Nestle and Co and buy local, homemade food on markets and in small, local shops instead.
As always, raising our voices for a cause makes a significant impact. To inspire others to make better choices for our planet is, in our view, the most powerful we as individuals can do. That is why we encourage everyone to talk about their choices and why we make them with others. The more people avoid the products containing palm oil or the more people stop eating meat will change the industry for the better. To stop consuming things that cause deforestation sends a message to the responsible companies, and they will know that they have to adapt when they want to stay on the market. We, as consumers, have, in fact, the power to change the world.
Just as the Oceans and any other ecosystem on the planet, the forests need us to make changes for them. We need them to survive, and so do they need us. And anyway, who would want to live in a world without being able to walk in a magical forest, breathe the fresh air and watch animals living their best life up in the trees!? No one! Trees are incredible and beautiful, and they are part of a healthy and happy life for us on this earth.