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Deforestation, state of affairs

Let’s take action!

The green lung of our planet

Our forests are vital to our health, but also to our economy. They represent the cradle of more than half of the terrestrial species and correspond to a third of our planet with a direct impact on the air we breathe.

Unfortunately, they are endangered: abused by humans, devastated by fires, degraded by agriculture, wood exploitation and energy production.

This mismanagement is having a significant impact on these areas worldwide, increasing carbon emissions and destroying biodiversity and vital ecosystems, not to mention local communities.

Various observations

According to WWF, there are currently 24 deforestation fronts in the world, regions with “hot spots” and where forest areas are highly threatened. This represents an area of 710 million hectares of which 10% was lost between 2004 and 2017.

These green areas are mainly in Latin America, but also in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Eastern Australia.

According to the United Nations agency in charge of agriculture and food, the surface area of forests in relation to the world’s land surface has decreased from 31.9% in 2000 to 31.2% in 2020. Almost 100 million hectares have been lost in 20 years and this is still increasing. Deforestation has accelerated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia in the last ten years, while it has slowed down somewhat in Latin America and Central America.

This observation is more positive and promising for other regions of the world such as Europe, North America and the rest of Asia. Indeed, thanks to the efforts made in favor of nature, reforestation and landscape restoration, the surface of forests in these regions has increased. We can, for example, mention France, whose forest area has increased from 30.7% in 2015 to 31.5% in 2020, or the forests of Italy, which occupy 32.5% of the territory instead of 31.6% in 2015.

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The reasons for deforestation

The main sources of deforestation are commercial agriculture, industrial planting, road development and mining. These sources are more or less present and influential depending on the time period and region of activity, and change with the global market. We see, for example, a strong trend toward cattle ranching and soybean production in Latin America and a trend toward palm oil production in Asia.

It should be noted that a new source of deforestation has appeared in recent years: the exploitation of small producers of raw materials (cocoa, corn, palm oil, etc.) which in most cases respond to a growing demand from domestic markets.

It seems important to mention one important player. Indeed, the European Union seems to be a good pupil in terms of reforestation of its territory, but it is sourcing from the agricultural land of its neighbors who are much less well off. The countries that host these forests are only responding to international demand for certain products and the European Union is a major importer of coffee, soy, palm oil and cocoa. As a result, the deforestation fronts are multiplying day by day.

Today, our forests are being eroded by man who cuts or burns them for exploitation and no real legislation is implemented.

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The solutions provided

In the face of these major attacks, it seems essential to try to bring some life back to our forests.

At present, the protection of these places relies on the will and goodwill of public authorities and companies.

There is no regulation concerning the preservation of these spaces and no law regulating the agriculture linked to products related to deforestation.

Solutions aimed at reducing these intensive exploitations have already been imagined as actions depending on national policies and regulations or more private and community initiatives.

We find solutions such as the deployment of protected areas or the recognition of land rights belonging to indigenous peoples and local communities.

Evolving approaches are also being implemented such as: financing sustainable territories, certification systems and traceability standards. These responses are having positive effects in the short term, but to ensure their sustainability, they should be supported by policies and scaled up.

A change of paradigm

It is time to react, to revalue what our forests can offer us. A collective mobilization is necessary. Everyone must be an actor of tomorrow, whether it is the countries that shelter the endangered forests, but also those who participate in this deforestation through their consumption and lifestyle.

First of all, it is essential to obtain legislation from the European Union and to mobilize the large companies in order to modify the current development model.

Then, protecting threatened areas, acting responsibly by putting an end to deforestation, committing to restore degraded forests, supporting more sustainable initiatives, transforming our eating habits, engaging politicians in taking into account the natural resources to be protected, making our economies and finances more sustainable are all ways to make our future better and more responsible.

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What to remember?

The green lung of the planet is therefore in danger. It is time to react. Deforestation has devastating consequences for the climate and wildlife.

It fragments and weakens the forests which become less resistant to climate crises. It’s time to do everything we can to get the big companies responsible for deforestation to take action for the world’s forests.

It is now that we must realize the ecological disaster that is occurring to respond effectively. The NGO WWF, stated that “despite international treaties and commitments made by major companies, forest loss has not been stopped, let alone reversed.” It therefore seems essential to make a real change in our economies, our food systems, our finances and our development model. It is essential to put nature back at the heart of our concerns.

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