The Health of Forests

States & Challenges of World’s Forests

Deforestation is Getting Worse, 5 years after countries and companies vowed to stop it. The cutting and burning of tropical forests, especially mature tropical forests like much of the Amazon rainforest, is particularly damaging because of the carbon storage lost and the contribution to climate change.

It was found that, on average, tropical deforestation and tree deaths emitted more carbon dioxide per year in the past five years than the entire European Union did in 2017.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said the world won’t achieve critical emissions reductions goals without stopping deforestation and restoring the world’s forests. The high number of fires in the Amazon in year 2019 has drawn international attention to the problem and the importance of forests for slowing global warming.

In the Amazonian basin, primarily Brazil and Bolivia, farmers have been lighting fires to clear land to graze cattle. So, as demand for beef and soy rises, farmers have been able to clear more forests, even though some limits on deforestation are still in place. The monitoring has been at a standstill. In Jun 2019, deforestation in Brazil was up nearly 90 percent compared to June 2018, according to the report.

Photograph of Fire in the Amazon Rainforest

Slash-and-burn agriculture converts forest to farm land, but that obvious destruction is only the beginning.

Forests are burning in large measure because some American grain giant like Ahold Delhaize, McDonald’s and Mars directly finance deforestation and repeatedly lobbied governments to stop basic environmental protections. However, in a recent study, it was found that stopping deforestation requires paying farmers to keep land in forests, in addition to strong government regulation.

Human activity can have a detrimental effect on forests and other parts of the environment, and Goal 15 pledges to reduce or reverse these consequences to provide a more viable ecological platform for sustainable development.

2 thoughts on “The Health of Forests”

  1. Monika Kis

    Very interesting post! You provided a lot of information. I didn’t know for example that 1/3 of the drinking water comes from the forest for the world largest cities. It really seems that forests are at the core of stopping climate change. But how sad it is that after the countries pledge themselves to minimise and stop deforestation, the numbers are rising high with a very quick speed.

    I liked that you pointed out that forest are not for trade. They should be considered as pre-condition for life. They are nobody’s, because they are everybody’s. They belong to the planet.

    Thank you for your post!

  2. Hi Ju Gu,

    Your article is comprehensive and to the point. The rapid rate of deforestation and its effects on animals and ecosystems is a tragedy stemming directly from human greed, so you did well to point out that corporate lobbying of govt. in prioritising profit over forests, needs to stop.

    Because we are at a critical choice-point for the future of the planet, your article is the kind of fact-driven notice we all need to reconfigure our values and start putting the earth first. I was glad you mentioned indigenous ways of managing land as being potentially more sustainable. I come from Australia, where we are continuing to learn about how to sustain agriculture with the help of indigenous knowledge.

    We should not ignore the global effects of our personal choices, such as tourism. This seems to be a recurring theme of the course. It made me think about my own choices, and increased my empathy for non-human life. So thank you.


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