Our forests are the second largest global store of carbon on our planet. Yet they are being cleared, burned or degraded at an alarming rate. Over the decades we’ve seen an increasing decline of our forests, with deforestation being a big cause of natural disasters. Deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels. It accounts for nearly 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions, that’s more than the planet’s entire transport emissions!
As a force for good, our forest superheros act as the ultimate carbon sink, absorbing the equivalent of roughly 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. But like any superhero though, they have a flaw. Deforestation is their kryptonite. When trees are cut down, they release this carbon dioxide back into the air.
Forest restoration and sustainable management
Sustainable forest management and their use of resources are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.
We lose around 10 million hectares of forest (that’s about the size of Iceland) which accounts for 12% to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, each year!
“Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well being” is the theme for the 2021 International Day of Forests. The restoration and sustainable forest management helps address climate change as well as the biodiversity crises. It also produces goods and services for sustainable development, creating long term job opportunities which then improves lives. 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.
International Day of the Forests aims to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests, and of trees outside forests.
And it’s not just happening in the Amazon…
We hear a lot about deforestation in far flung tropical locations like the Amazon rainforest, but deforestation is also a major problem in Europe too, and in the United Kingdom in particular.
During World Wars I and II, trees in Britain where chopped down for transportation and lodging. After WWI only around 5% of the nation has forest cover, which is why the Forestry Commission was formed.
Thankfully this has increased, with now 13% of UK land being forested, but continued tree planting and sustainable management is essential. As a nation, we have fallen short of our own targets, and the UK remained one of the least forested countries in Europe (which on average is 38%).
What can you do to help protect our forests?
There are lots of simple ways in which you can help to protect our forests, including:
Ditch the printer and go digital – trees are cut down for paper, so in simple terms the less we print, the less trees are cut down. Send quotes, contracts and invoice by email. There is some really easy to use software that allows you to manage your business admin completely digitally – check out Hello Sign for contracts and Quickbooks or Xero for your invoices .
Make sure your banking is paperless – log on to your online banking and opt to receive your statements by email. Some banks such as Starling also offer a completely paper free service.
Only buy Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products – you can be assured that products with the Forest Stewardship Council logo have been sourced in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.
Avoid buying new furniture – if you’re buying wooden furniture considering buying secondhand first, quality wooden furniture lasts for years.
Make some simple swaps in the bathroom – swap paper towels for an energy efficient hand dryer and regular toilet paper for bamboo toilet paper.
Paper plates are completely unnecessary – avoid them at all costs. If you really need to use disposable plates then opt for ones made with more sustainable material such as bamboo.
Education is key, talk to your colleagues about how collectively you can make a difference.
Ultimately, we need to raise awareness amongst the policy makers. Friends of the Earth have set out five clear suggestions for the UK Government, which includes setting a target to double UK forest cover from 13% to 26% by 2045.
A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Franklin D. Roosevelt