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

 

How L’Oreal committed to the ultimate makeover

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | January 30, 2014 12 comments

The world’s largest beauty and cosmetics company, L’Oreal, has made a landmark promise to remove forest destruction from the products they sell. "Because I'm Worth It" is a catchy slogan coined 40 years ago by the French cosmetics...

The week two pulp and paper companies showed their true colours

Blog entry by Phil Aikman | January 30, 2014

This week Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the target of a successful Greenpeace campaign, took yet another step along the road to reform. But its competitor APRIL is still clinging to its rainforest destruction. The good news from APP. ...

Will you help us Protect Paradise in 2014?

Blog entry by Bustar Maitar | January 24, 2014

When I read the daily newspaper here in Indonesia, it’s rare that there is not at least one big scandal or exposé related to the forest sector. Just this last weekend, land conflicts in a Kalimantan palm oil plantation made regional...

Banner At The Essar Mumbai

Image | January 22, 2014 at 17:57

Greenpeace India activists unfurl a giant 36x72 foot banner reading: ‘We kill forests', from Essar’s building in Mumbai. Indian Energy giant Essar have announced their intention to mine another area of pristine forest in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh,...

The importance of being a big tree

Blog entry by Dr Janet Cotter | January 16, 2014 1 comment

We know that forests are biodiversity-rich, and we know they provide us with essential ecosystem services, such as regulating water flows and influencing weather patterns . One ecosystem service often discussed these days is the role...

36 - 40 of 1546 results.

Categories