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Rainforests

Today, the Amazon Rainforest encompasses 6.7 million km² (2.6 million square miles) but is that as much as it seems?

According to Wikipedia the total area of the rainforest has decreased by more than 50%. Every year, an area that is as big as one third of Germany is cut down. The consequences don't only concern the native flora and fauna but also our climate.
You don't have to be an activist to do your part to save the rainforest. Many common products come from the tropical area. If you consider that when you go shopping, there will be a chance to reduce the deforestation. That's good for us (for our climate), for the native animals and plants and last but not least for the indigenes.

Products that have their Origin in the Rainforests

among other things...

  • coffee
  • tea
  • soy (is particularly fed to farm animals and therefore, the meat industry is involved in the destruction of the rainforests)
  • rubber (f.i. in car tires)
  • wood (f.i. teak, mahogany)
  • fruits such as
    • ananas
    • bananas
    • mangos
    • papayas
    • maracujas
  • paper
  • several pharmaceuticals
  • perfume

What we can do:

Now you will wonder what you can do because doing without all those products is difficult. The solution is: Have a closer look on them.

  • Fair Trade is a good alternative! It ensures an adequate payment for the farmers and sustainable agriculture.
  • Eat less meat! That is healthy for yourself and good for the rainforests. What else you can do by considering this point is explained here: Vegetarianism.
  • Buy wood with the fsc certificate! It guarantees sustainable forest clearance. Do not buy exotic woods such as teak and mahogany. Learn more about fsc on fsc.org - about fsc!
  • Exotic fruits are definitely something special and tasteful but don't exaggerate! Also eat local fruits!
  • Buy recycled paper!
  • You can buy a part of the rainforest and help organizations enlarge protective areas. You can make a donation or buy one acre for $100 for example on World Land Trust.
  • Search the Internet! No joke! You just have to use the right search engine: Ecosia donates 80% of their revenues to a reforestation program in Brazil. Just try it on ecosia.org!

Consequences of Deforestation

The deforestation of the rainforests does not only have devastating effects on the native animal and plant species but also on the Earth's climate. One tree produces as much oxygen as required for two humans for the rest of their lives. The carbon dioxide adsorption in the tropics is 30 kilos (66 lb) per tree and year. 90 to 140 billion tons of CO2 are stored in the Amazon rainforest. If it was destroyed, the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere would increase up to 25 per cent. (Source: Spiegel online (German only)) The WWF estimates that there would be more precipitation than before if 30 per cent of the rainforest were destroyed.

Facts about the Rainforest

  • Approximately one half of the known animal and plant species live in the tropical rainforests.
  • 15 per cent of the Earth's freshwater are stored in the Amazon rainforest.
  • The ground of the rainforests is largely barren. The plants obtain their nutrients from plant waste.
  • The rainforests are divided into four to five layers (depends on one's personal estimation): the forest floor, the shrub layer (often combined with the understory layer), the understory layer, the canopy layer and the emergent layer. The markedness of the layers depends on the region.
  • There are only about 200.000 native people and 1.000 tribes living in the tropical rainforests.

Palm Oil - Exhaustive Cultivation and Devastating Consequences

It's not only the Amazon rainforest that keeps shrinking at a rapid pace. Indonesia, for example, faces exactly the same problem. A major contribution is made by the cultivation of palm oil which is used, amongst others, for the production of sweets, margarine and cosmetics. One main buyer of palm oil is the largest food producer in the world: Nestle. Before Greenpeace launched a campaign against the enterprise or, to be more precise, against the famous chocolate bar "KitKat", Nestle showed no interest in using palm oil sustainably. In 2010, Nestle declared that it would not continue to buy palm oil originating from exhaustive cultivation bowing to the increasing pressure of consumers and environmental groups. The question remains how serious the enterprise is about their "action plan" and if "sustainable cultivation" can be a solution in the long term.