Planting Tomorrow's Seeds
Apr 18, 2022|15Life on Land
The UN's Sustainable Goal 15, "life on land' focuses on protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. This is done by creating strategies to manage forests effectively, combating deforestation, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss.
But why do forests matter?
Forests are our secret weapon against climate change as they help filter and absorb approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment. However, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the annual rate of deforestation is about 1.3 million square km per decade. So if we don't take action now, we will soon run out of forests and potentially lose the battle against climate change.
The SGDs 15, "life on land' promotes the sustainable management of all types of forests, halting deforestation and restoring degraded forests.
Let's break this down a little further.
Deforestation is the purposeful clearing of forested land, done by controlled burning or cutting down trees. Deforestation is often done for economic purposes, either to make room for agriculture and animal grazing or to make space for building homes and factories. Sometimes it is also done to use the wood for fuel-burning or construction. Deforestation is not a new practice. Ever since human civilization started, deforestation has happened one way or another, dramatically altering landscapes around the world.
One of the most dramatic examples of modern deforestation is the Amazon Rainforest in South America, where twenty percent of the forest has been lost to deforestation over the last forty years. Why? Deforestation of the Amazon is due mainly to an increase in the demand for timber and soy farms. More specifically, soy production in Brazil is the largest contributor to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, both directly through forest clearing for new soy farms and by displacing other smaller farmers who then move into forest areas for subsistence agriculture.
TIP: Perhaps something to consider next time you drink soy milk or eat vegan soy 'meats' - always read the label. Can you narrow down where the soy was harvested and if it followed sustainable farming practices?
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit, multistakeholder organization established in 1993 that promotes responsible management of the world's forests. The FSC, for short, is a global network of members, staff, certificate holders, promotional license holders, and responsible consumers. The FSC regulations help to ensure that forests and forest products are used responsibly, shifting the global forest trend towards sustainable use, conservation, restoration, and respect for all. In addition, the FSC manages the "gold standard" certification of ethical production; this means that any business or company that obtains an FSC certification is trusted as one that is doing its part to sustain forests and prevent deforestation.
Why you should look for the FSC symbol on wood and paper products
For more information about the FSC, please visit https://uk.fsc.org/what-is-fsc
What Can You Do to Help?
There are many things you can do to take action and prevent the loss of more forest areas around the world.
Keep Informed. As always, knowledge is power, and the more you know and share your knowledge, the more we can work together toward healing the world. So share your knowledge with friends and family, make a video or a presentation or work on a poster or leaflet and ask an adult if you can place it on a bullet board at school or community area.
Read the labels whenever you buy a new product. Knowing where your food and clothing come from and making conscious choices when it comes to buying makes you a conscious and ethical consumer. Look for things like the FSC certification, fairtrade, no animal cruelty, and organic certifications on the back of the product packaging.
Avoid using paper unnecessarily. Opt for cloth napkins when possible, use recycled paper or scarfs for gift wrapping, writing digitally (iPad, computer, etc.)
Clean your local parks and forests*. Organize your own or join an existing clean-up event to sustain the ecosystem of your local green space. *pro tip from the UN website
Don't use Palm Oil or products with Palm Oil. Unfortunately, palm oil is present in many foods we eat. Again, reading labels is always a good habit to develop and helps you make conscious choices.
Only buy what you need. Sometimes, it is easy to buy more than we need, to have things "just in case" or for another day. However, if we keep things simple and minimal, we are doing our part to protect the environment and use only the resources we need.
We have mentioned this before. However, it is always important to remember that you have the power. Your power as a consumer is vital to stopping deforestation. The more we demand products made out of palm oil or soy, the more these will be produced. Fortunately, more and more environmentally and forest-friendly businesses are making changes to help stop deforestation.
Thinking Cap On
Palm oil has been and continues to be a significant driver of deforestation of some of the world's most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino.
And guess what? Palm oil is in nearly everything – allegedly found in 50% of all packaged products in supermarkets. So next time your parents go grocery shopping, look at the list of foods your family purchases. Read the labels. How many of those have palm tree oil? Are there any substitutes you can swap these products for? Did you know they contained palm tree oil? Head over to https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil and find out how you can help avoid palm tree oil demand.