Deforestation, when defined in simpler words, is the large-scale cut down of trees (primarily forest trees) to facilitate human-related activities such as mining, timber extraction, or urbanization. However, the elevation in deforestation rate is becoming a major source of severe imbalances in the natural ecosystems. Hundreds of million hectares of forests have disappeared until now which is why immediate measures must be taken before it’s too late. Hence, this article elaborates ways on to stop deforestation and play your role as an environmentally conscious individual.
Why is it Important to Stop Deforestation?
Deforestation isn’t merely the loss of a useful resource but also leads to several other environmental issues such as wildlife destruction, soil erosion, flooding, and above all, climate change. Not to forget that trees are one of the greatest carbon sinks in the world. They take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. According to an estimate, the Amazon forest is responsible for about 20% of the world’s oxygen.
If we don’t minimize deforestation, the results are going to be disastrous. A large number of animal and plant species will go extinct, the air will become unsuitable for breathing, greenhouse gas emissions will increase, the temperature will rise to several degrees, and much more. In short, the earth will no longer be a place for life to sustain.
So, here are the 12 ways to stop deforestation.
12 Ways to Stop Deforestation
While thinking about the ways to stop deforestation some of us may think of it as something practically impossible because at the rate we’re going, stopping deforestation completely doesn’t sound like an option. Even in that case, one can always take steps to manage a resource sustainably. Adopt the following ways to prevent further loss of trees.
Develop a sense of care
It’s easier to succeed at a goal when you’re committed to it by heart. So, start by developing a sense of care for trees. Sit under a tree and see how refreshing it will make you feel as trees give out oxygen. Spend some time reading about the importance of trees in your life and what you can do to protect them. Teach your heart to respect trees and you will start to love them eventually.
One of the most convenient and straightforward approaches for overcoming the issue of deforestation is tree plantation. It’s like a lifetime investment. The seeds sown will grow into trees one day and may recover the loss faced through deforestation. How much you want to contribute will be your decision to make. Start from a single tree or two or even plan to plant a whole forest. Take the example of ‘Jadav Payeng’ from Majuli who is known as the ‘Forest Man of India’. Over several decades, he planted one tree each day and therefore successfully built a whole forest comprising an area of about 1400 acres.
Minimize Paper Consumption
According to WWF, the pulp and paper industry, being one of the largest global industries, is greatly affecting the forests of the world. The production of products such as paper, tissue, and packaging is responsible for the utilization of 40% industrial wood globally. This harvesting of trees for the pulp and paper industry imposes some serious threats to the forest ecosystems.
It doesn’t end here. The demand for paper increases by 2-3% every year, which leads to illegal logging, and hence, more and more trees are being chopped down. Minimize the use of paper and reduce its demand for the protection of trees. Avoid excessive printing, use both sides of the paper for printing or writing, and stick to emails rather than regular mail.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the 3 Rs of waste management. The idea is to preserve resources by minimizing the overall amount of waste produced by reducing consumption and promoting the reuse and recycling of products. Take paper for example. A paper that has been printed on one side can be reused for writing on the other side. This act will not only promote reusing but also reduction.
It has been estimated that recycling 1 ton of paper can save 17 trees. These 17 trees can capture around 250 pounds of CO2 annually. Buy those paper products that have been recycled or at least those that can be recycled. Recycled and recyclable products are always labeled accordingly. The same applies to other wood or wood-derived products.
Stop Purchasing Products that Contain Palm Oil
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that is extracted from African oil palm trees. In recent years, the demand for palm oil has surged globally. It is used for various purposes such as in different food and makeup products. But to meet its huge demand, palm oil production involves the clearance of large areas of tropical rainforests (mostly in southeast Asia) that are rich in biodiversity. In Indonesia, the principal cause of deforestation is palm oil production.
It is advised to avoid purchasing any products that contain unsustainable palm oil and always pick the ones with RSPO-certified palm oil because they are produced in compliance with global standards.
Purchase Sustainable Goods
Sustainable goods are defined as those goods that don’t pose any harmful impact socially, economically, and environmentally throughout their whole life cycle i.e., from raw material extraction to the final discard. Purchasing sustainable goods can protect the trees in great ways e.g., sustainable furniture is manufactured in such a way that it can be reused even after decades. It is not turned into waste after a short period but can be disassembled and reused easily. Therefore, the demand for raw wood and illegal logging is reduced. Sustainable furniture not only protects trees but also saves the user a huge deal of money. Instead of throwing away old furniture, you can get it modified at cheaper rates.
It is recommended to purchase only FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified products because FSC is by far the best global standard in forest management.
Opt for Sustainable Land Use Planning
Cities are continuously expanding and farmers are seeking the acquisition of more land to meet consumer demands. Such urban sprawl and agricultural expansion are adversely affecting the forests. The implementation of sustainable land use planning such as lessening urban and suburban sprawl and urban agriculture can play a major role in stopping deforestation.
Eco-forestry can be defined as the practice that allows the harvesting of trees in such a way that the preservation of the forest is not compromised. It allows the cut-down and transport of selective trees while ensuring the safety of the forest.
Stand against corruption and outdated policies
One of the most important ways to stop deforestation is the positive involvement of governments across the globe. Illegal logging organizations hide their activities by paying corrupt governments. Forcing governments to ban such activities will reduce deforestation on a large scale. Moreover, the leaders must update the forest conservation policies according to the latest science so that the earth can get rid of severe climate conditions.
Support and join organizations against deforestation
There are plenty of local and international organizations that are fighting against the issue of deforestation. They are focused on implementing sustainable forestry practices. Examples of such organizations are the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace, Conservation International, and Amazon Watch. Support these organizations in their cause against deforestation by either joining as a volunteer or making donations.
Take care of the rights of Indigenous people
Forests have been home to indigenous people for ages and have played an integral part in their lives. Unfortunately, governments and firms often deprive them of their rights for the sake of obtaining valuable resources for their businesses. Taking a stand for the rights of those indigenous people will protect their lands and help reduce deforestation.
Awareness is important to strengthen the fight against deforestation. A lack of awareness will worsen the situation over time. Start with your family, friends, and colleagues. Introduce them to the issue of deforestation. Make them aware of the importance of trees and tell them what will happen if we don’t put an end to deforestation. Empower them to use their consumer role in making a difference. The industries will automatically stop producing goods that are no longer demanded by consumers. Moreover, visit different communities such as farmers, and make aware them of sustainable practices.
Deforestation has become a global concern and needs some serious consideration by all nations because it is leading to several other critical environmental issues. The government as well as the individuals must play their role in reducing deforestation because it is their actions that have worsened the situation this far. Some of the above-mentioned ways how to stop deforestation are quite simple and don’t require much effort. So, start today, plant a tree, spread awareness, revise your consumer role, or join an NGO. Even the smallest attempts can put a huge impact on the environment.