I’ve heard the statistic before but it still both hard to comprehend but horrifying.
The need for firewood and charcoal, and thus the effect on forests is a big problem, and when it’s a choice of personal survival or planet I do understand the predicament, and I try to not be quick to judge, however it does show where our responsibilities lie to help with education and opportunity for those facing such difficult choices – hence our work, small but significant impact, for stove-building, tree-planting and working with the Maasai in Nykaweri to initiate a conservation on the plateau near the Mara. We also only buy from farms where they practice shade-gown, environmentally sensitive practices.
Rachel Brown, a writer for DIY Garden sent us a link to her article entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Help Prevent Deforestation” that she thought our readers might be interested in. Rachel has very kindly allowed us to include an extract which we have included below.
Deforestation is only continuing and accelerating, with many of the same negative effects—now on a larger scale. Tropical rainforests are among the most affected by deforestation today. Because tropical rainforests contain such biodiversity, their loss is especially harmful.
You may have read recent news stories covering, for example, the thousands of fires burning in the Amazon Rainforest—the smoke can even be seen from space. Over the past couple of years, rates of deforestation in the Amazon have skyrocketed. People first cut and collect timber, then set fires to clear out vegetation and ready the land for agriculture.
In East African countries such as Uganda and Kenya, deforestation is largely driven by the demand for firewood, charcoal, and timber. Conservationists estimate that in the past 25 years, Uganda has lost over 60% of its forest coverage.
In southeast Asia, numerous forests are cleared for palm oil plantations. Cheap and versatile palm oil is found in numerous products, from food to shampoo, animal feed to lipstick. It’s hard to avoid palm oil these days, but the demand for the product is devastating some of the world’s most biodiverse forests and threatening species such as the Orangutan and the Sumatran rhino. In short, deforestation and forest degradation occur worldwide.
How to Prevent and Reverse Deforestation
Because agriculture is such a major driver of deforestation, the development of more sustainable farming techniques is crucial.
As we have seen above, unsustainable agriculture often damages the land’s fertility over time, leading to erosion or nutrient depleted soil. Once an area of land is depleted, new forest is cut to make room for more crops. Proponents of sustainable agriculture hope to stop this harmful cycle.
Sustainable agriculture is a huge topic in and of itself, but I’ll mention some of the basic components here. As outlined by scholar Jules Pretty sustainable agriculture aims to:
- “integrate biological and ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, nitrogen fixation, soil regeneration…predation and parasitism into food production processes”
- “minimize the use of those non-renewable inputs that cause harm to the environment or to the health of farmers and consumers”
- “make productive use of the knowledge and skills of farmers, thus improving their self-reliance”
- “make productive use of people’s collective capacities to work together to solve common agricultural and natural resource problems, such as for pest, watershed, irrigation, forest and credit management.”
In short, sustainable farming seeks to balance shorter-term needs (profit margins for the farmers) with longer-term ones (the continuing health of the ecosystem).
Choose ethically-made products
Whenever possible, I buy items second-hand from charity shops. It’s also a good idea to do research on where the ingredients in your common purchases come from and choose ethical and fair trade companies.
The more that consumers demand transparency and environmental ethics from corporations, the more those corporations will feel compelled to improve their business practices.