Forests - threats

Around the world, lush tropical forests are being logged for timber and pulp, cleared to grow food, and destroyed by the impacts of climate change. Four fifths of the forest that covered almost half of the Earth's land surface eight thousand years ago have already been irreplaceably degraded or destroyed.

Cattle Paths in the Amazon

Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is lost due to logging or destructive practices. Seventy two per cent of Indonesia's intact forest landscapes and 15 per cent of the Amazon's have already been lost forever. Now the Congo's forests face the same threat.

While the causes vary from region to region, they all have one thing in common: human activity. Through agriculture and logging, mining and climate change, humankind is wiping out irreplaceable forests - and the life that depends on them - at a terrifying pace.

View of the Amazon from above. This 1645 hectare area has been logged to plant soy.

Agri-business is responsible for massive rainforest destruction as forests are burned to make way for cattle ranches, or cleared for palm oil or soya plantations. In this way, irreplaceable rainforests are converted into products that are used to make toothpaste, chocolate and animal feed.

Industrial logging for timber, pulp and paper has also devastated much of the world's rainforests. Not only are ancient trees cut down on a vast scale, but unplanned and inefficient practices lead to enormous additional wastage. And, by building roads into pristine rainforests, the logging industry opens them up to secondary effects like human settlement, hunting, fuel-wood gathering and agriculture.

Today, forests face another threat. Deforestation contributes to climate change (overall, it accounts for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions - which is why Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter and Brazil the fourth). At the same time, climate change itself threatens forests on a terrifying scale.

Rising global temperatures damage and kill trees, and increase drought and forest fires. Dying trees release still more carbon, which further increases our global temperature. This cycle of forest collapse represents a critical feedback loop that could drive warming for centuries, change life cycles on Earth, and usher in a sweeping transformation of human civilisation. The surest way to stop it is to end deforestation.

Pristine forests near Manokwari in West Papua, the last frontier of intact ancient forest in Indonesia

Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation globally by 2020 because protecting forests is one of the quickest and most effective ways to prevent climate change, protect biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities.

To realise this vision, the international community, corporations, forest communities and individuals in consumer countries will need to work together in an unprecedented, concerted effort. You can read more about the solutions to forest destruction here.

The latest updates

 

Mars and P&G: one just took deforestation seriously, and the other didn’t

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | 10 March, 2014 5 comments

Here’s how two different corporations respond to a consumers’ very real and very serious concerns… One makes a clear promise with ambitious time lines; the other continues as if it’s business as usual. This is the difference between...

Half a million reasons for P&G to protect forests!

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | 7 March, 2014 8 comments

Today is a milestone in the movement to Protect Paradise. Half a million of you have joined the call demanding forest-friendly products – and we're just getting started! In the last two weeks, you have been part of something big...

Today at P&G: orphan orangutans and flying tigers?

Blog entry by Joao Talocchi | 4 March, 2014 6 comments

Today started as a regular day. My son woke up at 5am, at 7am I got a coffee, walked to the subway and after a 40-minute commute I arrived at the office. But this ain't no regular day. This is the day Procter & Gamble (P&G), the...

Clean palm oil can help save the world's wildlife

Blog entry by Bustar Maitar | 3 March, 2014 1 comment

Nearly 400,000 of you have joined us to demand the products you use are forest and tiger-friendly. We don’t believe that the products we use every day should contribute to the destruction of precious habitat for animals. That’s why we...

Tackling illegal logging should not be a yearly event

Blog entry by Danielle van Oijen | 3 March, 2014

Anniversaries can vary in significance, both to people individually and to wider audiences. On paper, the first anniversary of the introduction of a piece of timber legislation might not be a birthday that is chalked up in many...

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