We can’t survive on this planet without forests, they absorb our carbon dioxide and produce oxygen in return. By storing all that carbon, forests help regulate the global climate, absorbing nearly 20% of the fossil fuel emissions we humans produce.
But very sadly, in more recent years, our fantastic forests have been sacrificed for human consumption. Each year we lost 32 million acres – that’s 26 times the size of the Grand Canyon! A horrifying 80% of our forests have already been destroyed and half of this has actually taken place in the last 30 years.
Our current consumption levels cannot be sustained, but exactly can we do? Check out our top four tips to be more forest friendly.
Choosing recycled or responsibly sourced wood
The timber industry is big business and our insatiable demand for wood is largely fed with unsustainable, destructive and illegal logging practices in many countries, and sadly, just 8% of the world’s remaining forests are currently protected from further destruction.
By choosing reclaimed or recycled wood you can reduce the demand for newly harvested virgin wood from forests, as well as preventing landfill waste and conserving energy.
The other key thing to look out for is the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) logo. By choosing FSC-certified products, you’ll ensure that the forest your wood comes from is well-managed from the protection of indigenous people’s rights to the methods of felling trees.
Recently cut and burned rainforest turned into a cattle ranch in the Brazilian Amazon, where cattle ranching is the biggest cause of deforestation.
Eating sustainable food
Many of the foods we enjoy every day are produced in faraway lands all over the world, making it difficult to draw the connection between mass deforestation to grow ingredients and finished products in our hands.
Very sadly, more and more pristine rainforests are being converted into fields to produce foods. Here are a couple of the most common foods and ingredients driving deforestation:
Around 80% of deforestation in Brazil can be attributed to the growing demands of cattle ranching and 33% of the whole world’s cultivated land goes towards producing animal feed. To save more forests, consider buying less animal products.
Palm oil is found in a wide range of foods, as well as cosmetics and household goods, but its production can be very problematic. Fires are set to clear forests and create land for more palm plantations which not only contributes to deforestation but is also a top source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Unfortunately, solving the problem isn’t as simple as boycotting palm oil. If most people begin to boycott palm oil, then it’s likely only a matter of time before the producers are going to replace the palm oil in their products with another ingredient.
Since no other oil can yield even a third as much oil per acre planted, we’d recommend choosing products without the need for oils at all or choosing products with sustainably sourced palm oil which have been independently certified as by the RSPO.
Aerial photo of environmental damage from palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia
Choosing forest-friendly fashion
Every year, 100 million trees are cut down for fabric collection and tonnes of toxic waste are dumped into rivers and trees as a result. Materials like rayon, viscose and modal fabrics are made from pulped trees. It’s a wasteful, chemically intensive and inefficient process that needs three tonnes of forest fibres to produce just one tonne of the dissolved pulp for making fabrics.
To choose more forest-friendly fashion, look for pre-owned clothes or if buying new, look to shift to alternatives like recycled rayon, organic and socially sustainable cottons and bamboos and, where tree fibre is used, eco-certified FSC forests.
Replanting the trees which have been logged has a “mind blowing potential" to tackle the climate crisis. While one individual tree might not make a huge difference, if 10 million people plant a tree, that would.
If you’re looking to plant at home in the UK, choose trees that are produced from seed that’s sourced from the UK and grown in the UK as buying trees that have been imported brings a risk of disease.
If you’re looking to plant trees further away from home, check out tree-planting websites like One Tree Planted, an environmental charity where you can give as little as a dollar (about 78p), or Treeapp where you can plant a tree for free every day by watching one ad a day by organisations spreading the word about their sustainable products and services.
That’s it for our top four tips to be more forest friendly and help deforestation. Got any tips of your own? That’s great! Share them in the comments section below, we’d love to hear them.