My heart drops each time, but I can't help myself; I've watched that video over and over again for what felt like hours. The video of an orangutan fighting off an excavator as loggers bulldozed through its habitat, but more importantly, it's only home. Imagine, everything around this beautiful creature is seemingly gone, and yet, it continues to fight. It clings onto the destructive cold metal but fails and falls onto the stacks of destroyed remains of its home, or what's left of it at least. I'm speechless; there is no excuse for such a selfless and egocentric act except for unsustainable progressive greed. Listen, I’m not here to sway or convince you that a specific action is causing all of the varying threats our planet and environment faces. But I am here to provide you with educational materials that I believe will help you. To not only become more aware and in tune with what’s happening, but how you can make an impact right now.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation refers to the decrease in forest areas across the world that are lost for other uses such as agricultural croplands, urbanization, or mining activities. I've often caught myself more times than I can count on the question of why deforestation happens? I think it's important to note that deforestation causes can either be indirect or direct. Some examples of direct reasons are natural causes such as hurricanes, fires, parasites, or floods. Further, and most likely most consistently evident are human activities. Human activities range from agricultural expansion, timber extraction, mining, oil extraction, and infrastructure development. According to FAO, between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990. Now, recapping on the horrific video of the orangutan fighting against the excavator is most likely only one example of millions of undocumented moments where human activities have destroyed natural habitats. The common denominator of deforestation is the threat and impact it has on biodiversity. Forests are home to 80% of land animals, ranging from birds, insects, plants; you name them, forests are their homes. With each human activity involving deforestation occurs is a significant setback that puts entire ecosystems in danger, and therefore, a natural imbalance of all life on earth. Take for example, the events that caused global arguments in Brazil and the Amazon forest (not good arguments). Tragic scenes of the largest biodiversity reserve on earth being scorched, torn down, and destroyed. For what? Economic gain, of course. Devastating, because the Amazon rainforest is home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.
Now, you're most likely reading this on your computer screen, maybe with some of you halfway across the world, thinking how deforestation and what is happening is connected to you? Right? If there is anything that I want you to remember or takeaway, everything about deforestation impacts you. Forests cover near or about 30% of the world's lands for now. You've probably heard the saying that "the forests are the lungs of the earth," well, that's the precise truth. We need these forests because they absorb the carbon dioxide you and I exhale while simultaneously absorbing the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that human activities emit daily. Cutting forests down defeats and undermines the ability to absorb existing emissions.
What can YOU and I do? Well...
Collectively, we can direct the market items to sway away from transformed industrial products that use significant amounts of palm oil. Another way revolves around conscious and responsible purchases of food products. Rather than going to a grocery store to purchase items, buy directly from small farmers or farmer markets. Reduce your consumption and use of single-use products. Reforestation is another excellent example of efforts to curb the impact of deforestation. Another idea is planting a tree that provides multiple benefits and aesthetic value.
As I'm sitting here talking with you, I can't help but feel distraught, concerned, and worried about how we can best address this global issue with such catastrophic ramifications. I won't paint a picture that it will be easy or our actions will be visibly imminent. But I believe that the world, and everyone on it, are giving a blank canvas in life each day. What we do moving forward can either have a positive or negative outcome on the legacy and planet we leave behind. We can't change what happened yesterday, nor can we know what tomorrow may bring. Our energy and actions should be directed to what we can do right this very moment. Think about it.
Please watch the video here to see how deforestation impacts our wildlife.