Boreal forest

Protecting forests

We campaign for forest protection because, without healthy, thriving forests, planet Earth cannot sustain life. As much as eighty per cent of the world's forests have been degraded or destroyed. Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation by 2020 to protect what is left of these extraordinary ecosystems.

Evolving over millennia, tropical forests are one of the greatest storehouses of nature's diversity on Earth; of all of the world's land species, around two thirds live in forests. Many of these rare creatures - orang-utans, tigers, jaguars, forest elephants and rhinos - are increasingly threatened by extinction.

But the importance of forests stretches far beyond their own boundaries. Forests help to regulate the Earth's climate because they store nearly 300 billion tonnes of carbon in their living parts - roughly 40 times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

When they're destroyed through logging or burning, this carbon is released into the atmosphere as the climate changing greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The destruction of forests is responsible for up to a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - more than every plane, car, truck, ship and train on the planet combined.

Forests also regulate water flow and rainfall so we depend on them to grow our crops and food. The loss of forest in one part of the world can have severe impacts in another; forest loss in Amazonia and Central Africa can severely reduce rainfall in the USA Midwest, for example.

With so many of the world's forests already destroyed, we urgently need to protect what is left. Yet industry is still relentlessly converting forests into disposable products that end up in our shopping baskets - while pushing species to the brink of extinction, destroying the lives and livelihoods of forest communities and exacerbating global climate change.

Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation, globally, by 2020.

To achieve this, we challenge destructive industries to change their practices, and we inspire consumer action to demand that our food, paper and timber products aren't linked to forest destruction.

We lobby political power holders to take the co-ordinated international and local political action that's needed to protect the world's forests, the rights of the people who depend on them, biodiversity and the climate.

We work alongside indigenous communities at the frontline of forest destruction - in the Amazon, the Congo, Indonesia - to investigate, document, expose and take action against forest destruction.

With the help of hundreds of thousands of supporters, we've won some amazing victories. Deforestation of the Amazon for soya and beef has significantly reduced due to the soya and cattle moratoria, the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada has been protected and is being sustainably managed, 80,000 hectares of northern Finnish reindeer grazing forests have been protected, and, thanks to pressure from our supporters, multinational giants like Nestlé and Unilever have changed their palm oil sourcing policies to help protect Indonesia's rainforests and peatlands.

In recent years, the possibility of a global political framework to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) has moved firmly onto the international political agenda. Greenpeace is campaigning for the right deal - which, if achieved, could benefit biodiversity, people and the climate as well protecting the world's forests.

But, in the minute it has taken you to read this page, a forest area the size of 35 football pitches has been destroyed. Our Earth's extraordinary and irreplaceable forests need to be protected, urgently.

The latest updates


Are limits to growth real?

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | 17 January, 2015 3 comments

In 2002, global warming denialist and anti-environmental gadfly Bjørn Lomborg consigned the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, to "the dustbin of history." However, 42 years of data now appear to vindicate the book’s premise, that the...

Priya Pillai speaks to UK MPs despite being barred from travelling to the UK

Blog entry by Pete Speller | 16 January, 2015 5 comments

Undeterred by the government of India trying to halt her speech when she was barred from boarding her flight to London, Greenpeace India campaigner Priya Pillai stuck to her commitment of taking the voices of struggle from Mahan to a...

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative does not stand up to the Forest Stewardship Council

Blog entry by Catharine Grant | 15 January, 2015

For years, conservation organizations have insisted that the only forest certification scheme that delivers socially and environmentally responsible forest practices is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). While not perfect, FSC has a...

What's the cost of standing up for fundamental rights in India?

Blog entry by Priya Pillai | 14 January, 2015 4 comments

Sunday marked yet another black day for fundamental rights in India. Though these charter of rights are enshrined in our constituion, my experience on Sunday morning at the Delhi airport show that these are not equally accessible to...

Tropical deforestation is bad news – the science keeps telling us

Blog entry by Dr Janet Cotter | 9 January, 2015 10 comments

Deforestation is very bad news for the environment and for the climate. It is bad news for biodiversity and releases greenhouses gases into the atmosphere – we know that. But the science is increasingly certain that deforestation is...

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