Forests and Trees

Why Forests and Trees Are Important

  • Half of all the world’s plant and animal species live in forests.
  • More than a quarter of the medicines we use come from rainforest plants.
  • Over a billion of the world’s poorest people rely on forests for their livelihoods. 
  • Trees clean the air we breathe by removing pollutants.
  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, which helps to slow climate change.
  • Trees help to prevent flooding and soil erosion.
  • Rainforests regulate the world’s rainfall and climate.
  • Trees are good for health and well-being.

What's Happening to Forests

  • One football pitch of forest is cut down every 2 seconds.
  • Human activities have led to the loss of nearly half the world’s trees.
  • Only 17% of forests left are protected.
  • We’re consuming forests! More than two thirds of rainforest destruction is carried out to produce commodities which end up in 50% of the products in our supermarkets according to expert organisation Global Canopy. Deforestation is also hidden in packaging, investments and pensions. 
  • Soy, beef, palm oil and wood products are the biggest contributors to deforestation; also, to a lesser extent, commodities such as cocoa, sugar, corn/maze and coffee, infrastructure projects and mining. See Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • 75% of soy production in Brazil is used for animal feed, about 20% for biofuel with just a tiny percentage (around 1%) used directly for human diet (eg tofu, soy milk).
  • Tropical deforestation contributes more than 12% of global warming emissions.

Articles to read:

UK

Just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (vs 35% EU average). Only 2% is ancient woodland which harbours the greatest biodiversity. Read more about some of the organisations making a difference and opportunities to get involved in planting trees

What You Can Do To Help

Source: CIFOR (The Center for International Forestry Research)

Let’s tip the balance from deforestation to protection and planting

Consume and Invest Responsibly

  • Consume with care, avoid waste and recycle.
  • Use less paper and recycle what you use.
  • Print double sided.
  • Print less – go digital.
  • Use reusable not disposable cups.
  • Use cloth not paper kitchen towels and napkins.
  • Avoid packaging where you can.
  • Use recycled paper or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

    PEFC is another forest certification scheme which meets the UK government requirements for sustainable timber.

  • Choose products made with sustainable palm oil or other sustainable alternatives. 
  • Reduce your meat consumption and buy local, pasture fed meat. 
  • Repair, restore, reuse furniture and wood.  Use vintage furniture or reclaimed timber where appropriate.  
  • Buy locally grown, sustainable wood eg FSC; FSC is also a standard to look for internationally. 
  • Look at WWF’s Timber Scorecard to see how good retailers are at ensuring their timber comes from sustainable sources.  
  • Consult Friends of the Earth’s Good Wood Guide to see which timbers from around the world are critically endangered or vulnerable and avoid buying them.
  • Look for the frog when you shop! Products from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms such as coffee, tea, cocoa and bananas are farmed more sustainably. Fair Trade is another standard incorporating environmental protection.
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  • Save and invest responsibly. See Global Canopy’s Forest 500 and SCRIPT initiatives.  

Support Charities to Protect and Restore the Natural World

  • Support conservation charities such as International Tree Foundation, Rainforest Concern, Tree Aid, World Land Trust and in the UK, the Woodland Trust and your local Wildlife Trust.   See more on these organisations and others working to protect and restore trees, forests, peatlands and wetlands.
  • Join Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or WWF.

Plant

  • Plant trees – resilient native species.
  • Apply for support to plant trees (UK projects):
  • Join others in tree planting initiatives:

Lobby

  • Use your voice and vote to encourage positive change. 
  • Sign petitions or lobby for change – see more.
  • Write to your MP and local council for positive action on forests and trees.

Combat Climate Change

  • Reduce and offset your carbon footprint.  See more
  • Travel less.  Choose nature-friendly travel providers and places to stay.  
  • Choose ecosia.org as your search engine – you search the web, they plant trees.
  • See Friends of the Earth’s top tips to help climate and nature.

Please note Positive Nature has no formal affiliation with these organisations

Articles/Publications to read: