What does deforestation have to do with the fires in the Amazon?
While fires are often a natural part of forest ecosystems, the majority of fires burning in the Amazon were started by humans. Often, farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to help clear land for crops and livestock.
Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef. And a global hunger for cattle and the soybeans that sustain them is driving this uptick in deforestation in the past years. (Vox)
This summer, more forest was cleared in Brazil than in the last three years combined. (National Geographic) Trees are critical to keeping the rainforest ecosystem going. As trees disappear the region gets drier, seeing less rainfall and putting the rainforest at risk of future fires.
Deforestation isn’t an issue limited to the Amazon. Around the world, over half of the tropical forests have been destroyed since the 1960s. (ICUN)
How does deforestation in Brazil or Indonesia have an impact on me?
Forests are carbon sinks, helping to trap greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and regulate the global climate.
The world’s forests absorb one-third of the annual CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. (ICUN)
Tropical forests hold more than seven times the amount of carbon emitted every year by humans. (WWF)
Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. (WWF)
In addition to helping regulate the climate and providing much-needed water to surrounding areas, 250 million people around the world depend on these forests for their livelihood. And, these ecosystems are home to over 80% of the planet’s terrestrial plant and animal species! (National Geographic)
What can any of us do to protect the planet’s forests?
There is hope for the planet’s forests! People are hard at work preserving the forests that still remain and others working to help forests recover. Let’s meet one!