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

 

APP's forest conservation commitments, one year on

Blog entry by Zulfahmi | February 5, 2014

A year ago today, Asia Pulp & Paper committed to end its role in forest destruction.  It placed an immediate halt to all forest clearance and began the road to reformation, under the watchful eyes of Greenpeace and a host of other...

5 Greenpeace Facebook moments to remember

Blog entry by JulietteH | February 4, 2014

The social networking giant, Facebook, turned ten today, but what does that have to do with Greenpeace? Well, whether you’ve signed in or not, Facebook has become a prime mover in digital activism. It's played a role in, and...

Herakles Farms: "Investing in Africa"

Blog entry by Brendan Schwartz | February 4, 2014

Herakles Farms is a gem of a company claiming to "invest" in "sustainable" agriculture in Africa, in particular in a forested corner of the South West region of Cameroon. It's a crowded market, but what makes them so different? What...

Choosing Amazon protection over greed, for now

Blog entry by Daniela Montalto | January 31, 2014 3 comments

We didn't know which way the axe would swing today, so to speak, regarding the extension of a landmark agreement about soya cultivation in the Amazon. And fortunately, it wasn’t the rainforest that got hit. Neither did the soya traders...

Amazon Soya Moratorium

Slideshow | January 31, 2014

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