Trees and forests provide the basis of life for humans and animals in many respects. This has devastating consequences for climate change, as the systematic clearing of rainforests is estimated to account for up to 25 percent of the greenhouse effect by releasing large amounts of CO2 through the destruction of forests. To turn the tide again, there is no way around sustainable rainforest use. In this Blogbeitrag we light up the alarming status Quo and concern ourselves afterwards more intensively with the possibilities for an environmentalcareful use of the rain forest.
Status Quo: Catastrophic deforestation of the rainforests
"When the forest became a renewable resource, the understanding of the forest became brutal," complains the German-Austrian poet Klaus Ender logically, because according to the report of the World Resources Institute (WRI)research group, almost 16 million hectares of tropical forests disappeared in 2017 - this corresponds to almost half the area of Germany. The worst affected regions are Latin America, Southeast Asia and Central Africa. The main reasons for deforestation are the continuously increasing demand for timber and firewood as well as the expansion of agricultural animal husbandryIn South America alone, almost 40 percent of the rainforest has been cleared in the last four decades in order to make room for grazing land or the cultivation of forage plants. In the Amazon region, as much as 70 percent of formerly wooded areas fell victim to animal husbandry. Clearing for the extraction of palm oil, infrastructure projects (for example for settlements, industrial sites or hydroelectric power plants) and the extraction of mineral resources such as copper, manganese and nickel have also increased drastically in recent years.
Much more than "just" wood: multitalent forest
But the forests of our planet have a significant impact on our entire ecosystem:
Binding of CO2: Forests, especially peat forests, are able to store large amounts of CO2 and thus reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The forests of the Amazon region alone currently store around 80 to 120 billion tons of carbon - more than a hundred times the annual CO2 emissions of Germany. Precipitation magnet: British researchers found that it rains twice as much in heavily overgrown forest regions as in bare areas. Systematic deforestation thus promotes drought and increases the risk of fire in the rest of the forest.
Habitat for animals: Nowhere on earth (excluding the oceans) do so many animal species live as in the tropical rainforests, especially in the tropical mountain and cloud forests. Here the forest extends upwards and offers further ecological niches - and thus space for even more species that have adapted excellently to the conditions. However, the clearing of rainforests threatens the habitat of native fauna and as a result more and more species are becoming extinct.
Habitat for people: Not to forget the approximately 300 million people, including more than 200 indigenous peoples, who find a home in the rainforest. Systematic deforestation destroys their natural habitat and deprives them of their traditional way of life and cultural identity.
Sustainable use of rainforests as an alternative solution
The multiple functions of the forest mentioned above make it clear how vital the rainforest is for humanity and how essential measures to counteract forest destruction are. The key concept here is sustainable rainforest use. Sustainable use of forests means that the economic, social and cultural needs and interests of our and future generations are reconciled. Read more about this in our next blog post.