Rainforests wrap around the equator of the earth like a green belt. After millions of years of evolution, they are the most biologically rich ecosystems on our planet. Tropical rainforests contain a hugely rich diversity of species of plants and animals. They are also home to many different indigenous people, who have unique and treasured cultures.
Valuable resources for everyone
Rainforests are precious resources for all of us – not just for the nations in which they are found. They provide vital ecosystem benefits for the whole world. They store water, regulate rainfall and provide a home to over half the planet’s biodiversity. But more importantly, they also play a crucial role in climate change. And that’s why we’re worried.
When it comes to climate change, the destruction of rainforests has a double whammy effect for everyone. Rainforests absorb almost a fifth of the world’s man-made CO2 emissions every year. But tropical deforestation releases an extra 17% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. So if the rainforests are destroyed, it’s bad news on both counts.
Rainforests around the world are being destroyed at an alarming rate. This is increasingly due to destructive logging operations and conversion of the land for farming use.
Cutting down and burning tropical forests to clear the land in this way enables rainforest nations to provide globally traded commodities, such as timber, palm oil, beef and soy.
The world’s population is likely to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion over the next 40 years. This population growth, combined with rising incomes, will lead to a continual increasing demand for food, animal feed and fuel. And this, in turn, will lead to more destruction of rainforests – with devastating effects for everyone.
The need for urgent action
The Prince’s Rainforests Project believes that emergency funding is needed to help protect rainforests and to encourage rainforest nations to continue to develop without the need for deforestation.
If we don’t take action, we could lose another 100 million hectares of tropical forests over the next 10 years – that’s an area the size of Egypt.
Saving the rainforests will give the world a better chance to achieve its goals of stabilising climate change, while also preserving important ecosystem benefits, not to mention the fact that over one billion of the poorest people on Earth depend on the rainforests for their livelihoods.
The need for action is urgent. Recent research shows that it will be impossible to avoid catastrophic climate change without it .
1 McKinsey & Company, ‘Global GHG Abatement Cost Curve v2' (2009); ClimateWorks Foundation / McKinsey & Company ‘Project Catalyst'