You’ve probably heard that forest land is being lost at an alarming rate across the globe—and it’s true. But what does that mean for you? For your family, your colleagues, your neighbors? Deforestation is more than an environmental buzzword; it’s very real, and it’s setting us back in our efforts to restore the planet.
What Is It?
Deforestation is the action of clearing a wide area of trees.
To explore a little further, however, deforestation that is caused by human intervention is the intentional and permanent removal of forested lands in order to use the land for different purposes.
Deforestation can either happen naturally or be caused by human intervention.
1. Natural deforestation occurrences like forest fires, hurricanes, and floods strip the land of trees, but the earth often heals itself from those over time. Forests are not intentionally removed by humans, and the forestland is allowed to regrow.
2. Human activity leading to deforestation, however, is permanently stripping the planet of vital forest resources. Things like mining, housing growth, infrastructure expansion, and urbanization all contribute to deforestation, but one culprit stands out more than the others:
Traditional Agriculture - According to the Food and Agriculture Association (FAO), growth in agriculture accounts for a majority of worldwide deforestation.
How Does Deforestation Hurt?
The important thing to remember is that the effects of deforestation aren’t isn’t just a “now thing.” What we do in this moment will affect the planet for generations to come, so it’s a “for them” moment, too. Here’s what deforestation does:
1. Deforestation takes work away from people who depend on it.
The FAO estimates that 90% of those who live in extreme poverty depend on forests for at least some of their livelihoods. (13.2 million people around the world earn some or all of their living because of forestry.)
But every year, the earth loses approximately 14,800 square miles of forest—that’s equivalent to the size of Switzerland!
By 2030, it is expected that only 10% of the earth’s rainforests will be left. And the people who depended on that industry to support themselves and their families? They will remain in poverty.
2. Deforestation threatens biodiversity.
80% of all species living on land are supported by forests. When we destroy forests, we destroy natural habitats, and we lose biodiversity. This is happening at an alarming rate as human actions continue to damage the earth without replenishing its natural resources.
Every SECOND, deforestation causes the planet to lose the equivalent of 20 football fields of forested land, stripping plants and animals of their habitats.
According to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020, certain wildlife populations have decreased by a whopping two-thirds in fewer than 50 years. At this rate, we’re not leaving a whole lot for our kids and future generations after them.
In December 2020 alone, the International Union for Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) listed 31 species as now extinct—and another 35,765 species threatened with extinction!
But there is good news AND PROOF that environmental action now can turn things around! The European bison, once on the verge of extinction, now roams in numbers 6,000+ strong because of the “power of conservation,” according to Dr. Bruno Oberle, Director General of the IUCN.
3. Deforestation threatens the climate.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air, slowing global warming. In turn, the loss of a tree releases carbon into the atmosphere.
A tree absorbs more than 48 pounds (22kg) of carbon per year. And an entire acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is released by a car being driven 26,000 miles per year. But that only works when a tree is ALIVE. (It doesn’t count when we mow them down to make room for parking lots.)
There’s a very specific equation that will SLAM THE BRAKES on deforestation.
Even if you’re not a math guru, you’ll like this one:
People + Action + Bamboo = Thriving Planet
What’s Bamboo Gonna Do?
Glad you asked! If we were able to choose one cape-wearing plant, superhero of a plant, it would be bamboo.
It’s really that amazing. A fast-growing grass, it’s been around for centuries and been revered as a building material, food source, fuel, fabric, ornamental plant, and more. It’s stronger than steel and softer than cotton, and it requires very little water and zero to no damaging chemicals for growth.
People have known about the versatility and sustainability of bamboo for a long time, and it’s finally emerging and being recognized as a renewable resource in the USA.
Urgent: Our Planet Needs its Balance Restored
Every day, more people recognize the need to give back to the planet, to replenish what has been taken from it. Bamboo makes it easy for anyone to jump in and help the environment!
From individual contributors to commercial bamboo farmers, everyone can play a part in building a cleaner, greener planet.
Bamboo vs. Trees
Green Resources loves all things…well…GREEN! That means we love to talk about everything from saving our forests to saving tiny, endangered moss colonies.
Here’s the Scoop
There’s HUGE difference between the environmental benefits of bamboo vs. trees. (We love you, trees! And there are alternatives to chopping you down.):
· A bamboo grove releases 35% more oxygen than a stand of trees the equivalent size—and it absorbs carbon dioxide.
· Depending on the species, bamboo can reach maturity within 1 to 5 years. It can take trees up to 40 years! The fast growth rate of bamboo allows it to keep up with the consumption rates of humans.
· Bamboo prevents soil erosion by keeping its long, shallow root system in place. Even after harvesting, the roots remain, providing nutrients for the next crop and preventing erosion. When deforestation occurs, stumps are burned, allowing erosion to occur.
· Harvested bamboo leaves very little to zero waste. Nearly every part of the bamboo plant can be used to make products.
Bamboo Is Leading the Way
Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes humans can be a little reluctant to try new things. The good news is this: Bamboo isn’t new! It’s been hanging around doing pretty cool stuff for hundreds of years. You should check it out.
With simple shifts in the way we think of products, processes, and protecting our planet, we can all play a major role in turning things around for the environment.