Activist Julia Butterfly Hill shares a poem about the effect of deforestation and how we can make a difference.
From the air that fills our lungs to the water that quenches our thirsts, forests play a vital role in our wellbeing. As ecosystems that give us life, how can we show more love to our forests? One gift we can give is to help end deforestation.
Deforestation has become a global concern, with devastating consequences for our planet. The loss of trees not only affects ecosystems and biodiversity but also contributes significantly to climate change. HIghlighting the impact deforestation is having on our generation and those after us, renowned environmentalist, Julia Butterfly Hill has resurfaced after a decade ‘off the grid’. She calls on leaders to take action and support community-centered Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects. Recently, she released a poem, “Where Have All The Humans Gone” she wrote while living in a 1,000 year old redwood tree that delves into deforestation effects while exploring solutions that will preserve our forests for future generations.
The Significance of Forests in Combating Climate Change
Is it any wonder that the Amazon rainforest is often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth.” This forest alone absorbs approximately 2 billion tons of CO2 annually. Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Through photosynthesis, trees convert CO2 into oxygen, effectively reducing its presence in the atmosphere.
Forests also have the ability to influence regional weather patterns. The trees can generate ideal conditions for regular rainfall for nearby farmland. Underground, roots absorb water to help prevent flooding, soil loss, and even property damage from heavy rainfall.
The effect of deforestation not only threatens our chance at mitigating climate change, but also threatens the habitats of millions of lives. Forests are home to countless plant and animal species. When trees are cleared, entire ecosystems are disrupted, leading to the displacement and extinction of species. This century alone, the clouded leopard, spix’s macaw, and mount glorious torrent frog have been declared extinct due to deforestation.
The Call for Community-Centered REDD+ Projects
As we as a global community strive to address deforestation and its effects, organizations like the United Nations have begun community-centered REDD+ projects as a promising solution. These projects aim to empower local communities and indigenous groups, providing them with incentives to protect and manage their forests sustainably. In 2022 one REDD+ As a result of REDD+ activities, “Sixteen countries reported a reduction of almost 11 billion tons of carbon dioxide, almost twice the amount of net greenhouse gas emissions from the United States in 2021.”
Community-centered REDD+ projects offer a range of benefits beyond carbon emissions reduction. By preserving forests, these initiatives safeguard vital ecosystems and protect biodiversity. They also provide economic opportunities for local communities through sustainable livelihood practices, such as eco-tourism and agroforestry. Additionally, REDD+ projects empower indigenous groups, giving them a voice in decision-making processes and ensuring the protection of their ancestral lands.
Julia Butterfly Hill and her Advocacy for REDD+
Julia gained international recognition in the 1990s for her courageous act of civil disobedience. She spent 738 days living in a towering 1,000-year-old redwood tree (affectionately named Luna) and successfully halting loggers from clear-cutting the surrounding forest. After a decade away from the spotlight, Julia now voices her support for ambitious deforestation solutions and emphasizes the importance of community-centered REDD+ projects.
How Can We Stop Deforestation?
The need to address deforestation is more pressing than ever. As global temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more frequent, preserving forests becomes a critical strategy in mitigating climate change and protecting our planet. At the COP26 Climate Change Conference more than 100 world leaders came together to pledge to reverse deforestation by 2030. It is essential for governments and businesses to uphold these promises, take immediate action to combat deforestation, and support initiatives like REDD+.
Corporate Responsibility in Combating Deforestation
Companies have a significant role to play in combating deforestation. By investing in community-centered REDD+ projects, businesses can contribute to sustainable land management and offset their carbon emissions. This not only benefits the environment but also enhances a company’s reputation and demonstrates its commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Individual Actions to Protect Forests
While governments and corporations have a pivotal role in addressing deforestation, we as individuals can also contribute to the cause. Making conscious choices in daily life, such as reducing paper consumption, supporting sustainable brands, and participating in reforestation initiatives, we can collectively make a substantial impact on preserving forests. Here are a few other actionable steps you can as suggested by Greenpeace:
- Reduce your consumption of single-use products.
- Write to brands demanding that the forest-derived products you purchase are made from 100% post-consumer recycled content materials and when products are made from virgin forest, demand that the sourcing is done in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
- Make informed food choices. There is a myriad of reasons to adopt a plant-based diet or reducing your consumption of animal products including the protection of forests and nature.
- Demand that your governments only source forest commodities in a way that ensures the protection of nature and respects human rights.
Deforestation has far-reaching effects on our environment, biodiversity, and climate. The urgency to address this issue cannot be overstated. Through community-centered REDD+ projects, we can empower local communities, protect forests, and reduce carbon emissions. As Julia Butterfly Hill reminds us, it is not enough to discuss solutions; we must take action and live these solutions. Together, with collective efforts from governments, businesses, and individuals, we can create a sustainable future for our planet, where forests thrive, biodiversity flourishes, and the effects of deforestation are mitigated.
The loss of forests is not just the loss of trees; it is the loss of a sustainable future for all living beings.Julia Butterfly Hill