Founded in 2017 by Rainforest Partnership, World Rainforest Day seeks to celebrate the ways in which rainforests contribute to biodiversity, livelihoods, cultures and the climate, whilst also raising awareness about the fragility of these natural phenomena and the destruction they continue to face. Rainforest Partnership is an affiliated member of the UN Economic and Social Council and works with global organisations and Indigenous People, launching projects to help protect and restore rainforests across the world. In its mission to create a unified response to prevent deforestation, Rainforest Partnership consults and advises businesses and organisations worldwide on more sustainable practices surrounding rainforests.
This year’s theme for World Rainforest Day is “Conserve. Restore. Regenerate”, embodying both healing and preventative methods to reduce deforestation and degradation. As is evident in the name, rainforests are forests with continuous rainfall all year round, making them home to an abundance of ecosystems that thrive in wet, tropical and humid environments, and often cannot exist elsewhere.
Why Conserve the Rainforests?
The roles that rainforests play in the world’s ecosystem are astonishing. Their ability to capture and store carbon, regulate climates and influence rainfall patterns across continents makes them one of the most valuable resources we have to limit and reverse the effects of climate change. Rainforests also provide reliable water sources by cycling rainwater through their vast network of trees and foliage, creating currents that transport the water elsewhere. Over 50% of the world’s plant and animal species can be found in rainforests, all of which are being threatened and destroyed by deforestation and climate change. We also get a considerable number of our medicines and daily products such as coffee, cocoa, sugar, spices and fruits from rainforests, allowing us to benefit from these magnificent natural resources. However, we need to ensure that we are farming and extracting these resources as sustainably as possible.
Why do They Need to be Restored?
The biggest drivers of deforestation and degradation include cattle ranching, logging, farming, drowning for dams, digging for minerals, building infrastructure, commercialised and industrial agriculture, urbanisation and clearing for resources. These intrusive operations violate the homes of millions of plant and animal species and interfere with the climate, water sources and weather patterns.
Perhaps the rainforest that first springs to mind, the Amazon is not only the biggest tropical rainforest but is also being destroyed the fastest. The Amazon accounts for a third of tree cover across the tropics and is three times larger than the second largest rainforest, the Congo Basin. The Amazon River is also the world’s biggest river and drains an area nearly 48 times the size of the US. The Amazon rainforest lost over 30 million hectares of primary forest and over 44.5 million hectares of tree cover to deforestation between 2002 and 2019, illustrating the sheer magnitude of destruction
The Amazon is also home to over 30 million people and over 350 Indigenous groups depend on it for their home, culture, traditions, food, clothes and medicine. By working closely with Indigenous groups, we can benefit from their knowledge, experience and insight into rainforests and learn how best to protect them.
How Can You Help Regenerate the Rainforests?
Talk about it. Talking about the effects of deforestation and getting involved in projects and organisations like Rainforest Partnership helps to raise awareness of these issues and puts pressure on those accounts to make changes.
Educate yourself. By learning about rainforests and the magic they hold within them, we can adjust our habits accordingly and limit our impact on these tropical jungles.
Fundraise for charities and organisations that work directly to help protect and heal our beautiful rainforests.
Volunteer with WorkingAbroad! We have a number of projects that specifically address rainforest conservation issues, aiming to protect their fauna and flora from a range of pressures. Countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica are all potential locations for your next volunteering adventure.
Written by WorkingAbroad Blogger Gemma Howard-Vyse