How to save forests?

Deforestation needs to be tackled from a few sides [2]:

1) LAWS to prevent deforestation. Forest clearance speed in Costa Rica slowed by 50%, thanks to laws protecting zones from conversion to agriculture [7]. Governments can also pay people to re-grow forests [12,13,14]. However, laws can be quickly reversed when new leaders come into power, as has recently happened in Brazil [20].

2) ENCOURAGING people to not deforest. Governments can help with taxes, subsidies and strategic development that promote more efficient use of existing agricultural land rather than cutting down forest for new farmland [2]. Non-Governmental Organisations can help farmers find alternative income to avoid deforestation, such as through the United Nations’ REDD+ programme [3,19]. However, the benefits of these projects are limited, largely by lack of funding [21,22].

3) PEOPLE PRESSURE: reduce demand for deforestation. A lot of forest is cut down to grow ‘cash crops’ which farmers sell for money, rather than growing food for themselves [1]. If people didn’t buy anything that caused deforestation, this would reduce the drive for it [5,4]. This requires laws, such as the 2006 Soy Moratorium that banned import of soy to Europe that had caused deforestation in Brazil [6]. Although this law was not always enforced, it did help reduce forest loss [8]. The Moratorium was made in response to public pressure, following powerful campaigns by Greenpeace [8,9,11].

Deforestation is a hugely complex problem, tied up with ethics and socioeconomic development. We must remember that many developed countries have already cut down much of their forest [1], and that this aided development [10]. If we want to save forests where they remain (such as the Amazon), we must create incentives for countries to enforce regulations, and we must all pay for it.

If all these methods are used together, we have the best chance of saving as much forest as possible [2]. This is a priority for curtailing global warming [15], as well as preventing large scale erosion of soils [15,18], and mass extinction of nature [15,16,17].

References

[1] https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/52/2/143/341135

[2] https://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6272/450

[3] https://www.un-redd.org/

[4] https://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/13567IIED.pdf

[5] https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Deforestation/deforestation_update3.php

[6] https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/brazilian-soy-moratorium-renewed-indefinitely/

[7] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034017/meta

[8] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0264837717312413

[9] https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/victories/amazon-rainforest-deforestation-soy-moratorium-success/

[10] https://www.wsl.ch/staff/niklaus.zimmermann/papers/QuatSciRev_Kaplan_2009.pdf

[11] https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/legacy/Global/usa/report/2010/2/eating-up-the-amazon.pdf?53ea6e

[12] https://www.allianz.com/en/press/extra/knowledge/environment/150320-how-costa-ricas-eco-economy-saved-its-forests.html

[13] http://le.uwpress.org/content/89/3/432

[14] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041615300309

[15] https://www.ipcc.ch/2019/08/08/land-is-a-critical-resource_srccl/

[16] https://www.nature.com/articles/nature09678

[17] https://www.ipbes.net/sites/default/files/downloads/spm_unedited_advance_for_posting_htn.pdf

[18] https://rainforests.mongabay.com/0903.htm

[19] https://theredddesk.org/countries/initiatives/gola-rainforest-national-park-redd-project

[20] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/03/brazil-amazon-rainforest-deforestation-environment

[21] https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/forests/redd-has-failed-to-achieve-its-objectives-cse-report-62600

[22] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-018-0033-0

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