Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuelwood and medicines for the people that live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities.
Wood and other fibre grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing. While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy.
The latest Forest 500 ranking shows that too many companies are ill prepared for the regulatory changes coming down the track.Far too many the companies that are most exposed to deforestation are still not doing enough:
- Nearly three out of four (72%) of the 350 companies do not have a deforestation commitment for all of the forest-risk commodities in their supply chains.
- One-third (117/350) of companies have no deforestation commitments at all – a small decrease on last year.
- While 28 companies published a new commitment to address deforestation since last year, just 11 of these have a deforestation commitment for all of the commodities they are exposed to.
- Many companies with commitments are failing to provide evidence of how they are implementing them, particularly for soy, beef and leather supply chains.
- None of the companies assessed had a comprehensive approach to human rights.
Small-scale farmers also play a role, often due to poverty and insecure land tenure. Mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects are also major pressures – new roads can have a large indirect impact through opening up forests to settlers and agriculture.
Deforestation has caused about 20 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The rise in greenhouse gases, both human caused and natural, is contributing to unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change, extreme weather and threats to life as we know it.
Deforestation also cripples our planet’s capacity to capture carbon from the atmosphere, while contributing to the loss of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants and many others.
According to satellite data, tropical forests are being destroyed at a rate of about 8 million hectares (31,000 square miles) a year — an area equivalent in size to the state of South Carolina or the Czech Republic.
- Despite their immense value, nearly half of the world’s rainforests have been lost since levels found in the 1960s.
- Every day, about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of rainforest — an area nearly 14 times the size of Manhattan — are burned around the world.
- About 36 football fields worth of trees are lost every minute due to deforestation.
We have the plans and the stakeholders on standby to start the largest reforestation and forest conservation project on the planet today.