Why rainforests are important: 9 key reasons we need to fight against deforestation

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  • According to Rainforest Alliance expert Emmanuelle Berenger, they're vital for our survival as a species and for the survival of life on Earth.

    Ever wondered why rainforests are important? According to the sustainable forest management lead at the Rainforest Alliance Emmanuelle Berenger, because, in short, rainforests are vital for our survival as a species and for the survival of life on Earth.

    Yet over one billion hectares – that’s an area the size of Europe – has been destroyed over the last forty years, and the destruction continues, putting the planet in peril. Keen to live more sustainably and cut down your carbon footprint, while you’re at it?

    We know that protecting and restoring forests could reverse global emissions by third—so if you need another reason (or nine) to protect the world’s rainforests, keep reading. You’ll learn just why rainforests are important – and need to be looked after – from someone who’s day-to-day is to protect them and keep. them safe.

    Don’t miss our guides to saving the oceans and reducing your water usage, while you’re here.

    Why rainforests are important: An aerial shot of a rainforest and river

    Why rainforests are important: 9 key points 

    Forests absorb greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide

    Plants absorb and store carbon dioxide, according to Berenger, and the world’s rainforests alone give us the potential to provide 23% of the natural climate mitigation needed by 2030, she shares.

    “Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide, but help us to stabilise the global climate,” she explains.

    Forests clean the air

    Rainforests are nature’s air filters, she shares.

    “They collect and filter excess carbon and pollutants – not to mention stinky odours – and release fresh oxygen through photosynthesis,” she explains.

    Forests help regulate the earth’s water cycle

    Rainforests are key to the earth’s global irrigation system, which forms clouds and “flying rivers”, helping to distribute fresh water around the globe.

    Why rainforests are important: A woman working in a rainforest

    Forests stabilise the soil

    Did you know? Just one spoonful of rainforest soil contains some 50,000 different types of bacteria and supports millions of species.

    “When deforestation happens, this richness is lost—for good,” shares Berenger. “Forests also protect the soil from damaging erosion, which can fill and contaminate waterways,” she expands.

    Forests protect biodiversity and endangered species

    Rainforests are the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth and are home to literally millions of – many undiscovered – species.

    “Some indicators say that we are already losing some 50,000 species per year due to deforestation alone,” she shares.

    Forests provide livelihoods

    Interestingly, rainforests are home and all resources to some 1.2 billion people around the world.

    “They provide an essential means of food, shelter, health, medicine and are central to maintaining a diversity of cultures and identities,” explains Berenger. “Plus, millions more live on forest fringes and depend on them for income or natural resources like fruit, coffee beans, timber, nuts and tree sap.”

    Why rainforests are important: Coffee beans

    Forests provide a pharmacy

    This one’s perhaps not one you might have guessed. Forests have always provided plant medicine for the people who live there, but did you know that some 25% of our modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants?

    “It’s thought that this is only the tip of the iceberg, with 99% of medicinal plant use being untapped by the Western world,” shares Berenger.

    Forests provide foods that you love

    Think bananas, pineapples, nuts, even coffee beans – the forests are rich ecosystems that provide humans with a wealth of foods we love and enjoy regularly.

    Forests protect our future

    Last but by no means least, according to the expert, protecting the rainforests is arguably the best, natural, most cost-effective means available to combat the climate crisis.

    It’s time – act now to recycle, reduce your plastic usage and avoid fast fashion to do your bit.

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