– THE DIRE STATE OF DEFORESTATION –
Deforestation emits 3 billion tonnes of carbon a year on average – more than all cars and trucks on the planet combined. Over the last two years, we’ve been losing 40 football fields of tropical forests every minute.
Forests’ incredible carbon storage capacity is not just due to trees storing carbon in their trunks, leaves, and roots – forest soils often store as much carbon as the trees themselves. It’s because a forest is far more than just a bunch of trees: it’s wildlife, plants, insects, other living things, and even dead trees and animals.
All of these work together to enrich the soil and the ecosystem, and all in all, they make the forest much more than the sum of its parts. Research has even shown that carbon storage is much lower in managed forests, or in plantations, compared to natural forests. And that’s with the forest standing. Imagine what would happen without it. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we’re headed.
But this means that if we can stop tropical deforestation, we can prevent a lot of that from being emitted. That’s especially important right now, because we’re not doing nearly enough to stop climate change. Despite the Paris Agreement, we have made very little progress in cutting emissions. Instead, we’re likely to miss our targets.
To make matters worse, not doing enough now means that we’ll have to take much more drastic action later – or that we could go past a point of no return. Not only will it be much harder to do it all at once, but the longer we wait, the worse the impacts will be. And we’ll be much less likely to be successful: some estimates say we only have ~6 years left at current emissions before we’ll no longer be able to keep warming beneath 1.5oC.