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“Fossil fuels and energy policy are only part of the equation. Entire ecosystems are failing and the humanitarian crisis will continue to unfold.”
Global tree cover loss reached a record 29.7 million hectares (73.4 million acres) in 2016 and it continued at the same pace through 2017. Much of the loss is happening in tropical rainforests, which are vital hotspots for biodiversity, including many endangered species. The annual loss of forests now covers an area about the size of New Zealand. Forest fires contributed to the recent spike. Deforestation due to agriculture, logging, and mining continue to drive global tree cover loss.
Energy conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are all part of the solution to humanity’s contribution to global warming and climate change, but we need proven carbon capture strategies to help restore balance to our atmosphere. We need forests more than ever. Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuel wood and medicines for the people that live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fiber grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.
While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. Small-scale farmers also play a role, often due to poverty and insecure land tenure. Mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects are also major pressures – new roads can have a large indirect impact through opening up forests to settlers and agriculture.
The biggest cause of deforestation is agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. Small-scale farmers also play a role. Mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects are taking a toll. Forest fires also are taking their toll:
• About half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared, according to the FAO.
• Forests currently cover about 30 percent of the world’s landmass, according to National Geographic.
• The Earth is losing the equivalent of 41 soccer fields every minute.
• The country with the most deforestation is Indonesia. Since the turn of the century, Indonesia has lost at least 39 million acres (15.79 million hectares) of forest.
We have several projects ready in Africa today. Thousands of community stakeholders across East Africa are ready to act now. They can help us all fight global climate change, while defending critical ecosystems.
Read The Full Story About Biodiversity, Deforestation and Climate Change.