A few months ago I shared a photo on my Facebook page with a caption that read “We cut down 3 billion trees every year--that’s an area the size of New York City every two days. This future, I do not accept it.”
Immediately, a friend replied “But don’t forget! The U.S. plants 4 million trees every single day!”
The response got me thinking... Understandably, people often group planting trees and reducing deforestation in the same category. I get it. Cutting down trees is bad. Planting trees is good. If we plant trees, we’re doing our part, right?
Planting trees is a wonderful, important, positive thing to do for the benefit of the environment and future generations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s essential that we continue to plant trees and accelerate reforestation initiatives. And it’s definitely not a competition by any means, reforestation vs. deforestation, this problem is ALL hands on deck. All solutions matter!
But, it’s not the conversation I’m having when it comes to immediate solutions to curbing climate change. It’s a different chapter of the book. So I thought it would be important to explain why reducing deforestation is so critical.
When I’m talking about the importance of stopping deforestation (protecting forests from being cut down) it’s because there is a DIRECT and IMMEDIATE threat to the environment when we destroy forests. And, there is a DIRECT and IMMEDIATE benefit to the environment by keeping trees standing.
So, what’s the link between deforestation & climate change?
Deforestation is one of the LEADING causes of climate change. It contributes to more than 7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions every single year, which accounts for approximately 15-17% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s more than the ENTIRE global transportation sector.
An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 Billion tonnes annually by the year 2020, (that’s A LOT!) to avoid what they say will be "catastrophic effects of climate change" that are irreversible and exponential.
It has been recognized by the scientific community that keeping forests standing will play a MAJOR role in reversing the climate change trend, and that reducing emissions by avoiding deforestation (REDD+) MUST become a priority.
Why keeping our forests standing is so important:
Aside from being incredibly beautiful, forests are significant in terms of the people, communities and wildlife who rely on them to survive.
On top of all of that, forests help regulate the climate. While a forest lives it helps stabilize our changing climate by absorbing greenhouse gas emissions. Living forests also provide livelihoods for forest communities, habitat for biodiversity, and ecosystem services like fresh water.
When we destroy a forest, we impoverish the forest people, drive species towards extinction, and threaten the resources humans need for survival.
Planting trees is important and will benefit us all in the future, but it’s keeping the trees we ALREADY have alive that will solve the problem of climate change TODAY.
If you’re inspired to make a difference today, check out the Stand For Trees campaign and save a forest of your choice!
Trees stand for us, it’s time we stand for trees.