The loss of the Earth's forests is one of the greatest catastrophes to happen in our lifetime. Not just for the human race, which relies on oxygen produced by the trees, but for the millions of species living and thriving amongst the trees. Let's face it, life as we know it would not exist without them. So, why do the forests get cleared? Mostly, to make the land available for other uses, mainly agriculture.
Some deforestation facts:
- About half of the world's tropical forests have been destroyed
- More than 25% of our medicines today come from rainforest plants. We have only explored 1% of the plants available.
- It's estimated that in 100 years, there will be no more rainforests.
- It took 60 to 100 million years for Rainforests to evolve and it is the home of over 30 million species of plants and animals.
- Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation
A particular area which we feel is so important right now, and also an area that we can make real change in, is the palm oil trade in Indonesia, which is causing mass devastation. The global demand for palm oil has fueled deforestation in the area: Indonesia's palm oil exports increased nearly 11 million tons from 2000-2009.
Once the palm is planted it can produce fruit for more than 30 years, which can provide employment for poor rural communities, and the oil is highly lucrative as it can yield more oil than any other oilseed crop. The global market is demanding more of the oil for cooking, cosmetics, and biofuel. However, the palm oil trade comes with significant costs: The plantations kill endangered species, uproot local communities, and contribute to the release of climate-warming gases. Infact, Indonesia now emits more 'greenhouse gases than any other country besides China and the United States.' (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6059)
Indonesia is home to a vast array of unique wildlife, and is among the most biodiverse rainforest in the world. It is also home to the orangutan, elephant, and tiger which are already endangered. There are estimated to be just 400 Sumatran tigers left and in the last 20 years almost 80% of the orangutan habitat has disappeared. On the palm oil plantations, orangutans are considered to be a pest, and are macheted and burnt alive. These self-aware, highly intelligent creatures are being driven to extinction and we are losing 6000 orangutans a year.
The culprit is palm oil. This oil is used in a shocking amount of household items and I guarantee that if you have a look in your kitchen cupboards, you will find products containing palm oil. We must collectively boycott products containing palm oil and continue to raise awareness so that other people do the same. The devastation is caused by short-sighted governments and land owners who cannot see, or do not care, about the value offered by the world's rainforests. It is not acceptable for a rich, life-sustaining forest to be destroyed for our packet of Doritos. A simple Google image search for 'palm oil orangutans' will show you the horror facing these beautiful animals (I don't feel it'd be right for me to force the images upon our readers).
Products containing palm oil: Lipstick, shampoo, pizza dough, margarine, instant noodles, packaged bread, Pringles, Oreos, Nutella, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, chocolate, and more.
Procter & Gamble and McDonald's buy just 13% of their palm oil from certified sources. At 17%, PepsiCo is another big name on the 'laggard list.'
What can you do to take action?
- Say NO to palm oil
- Look for products using either: A palm oil subsitute, or sourcing the oil from certified sources.
- Use your voice - Contact companies using palm oil in their products and make them tell you why they choose to use a devastating ingredient. Hold them accountable!
- Adopt a rescued orangutan: http://www.orangutan.org.uk/how-to-help/adopt-an-orangutan
- Visit 'Say No To Palm Oil' to learn more: http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/
- Share this blog with friends and family in order to raise awareness