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orests and woodlands still cover nearly a third of the planets land surface and are a cornerstone of life on earth. They are a key element in putting the brakes on climate change and biodiversity loss.  Despite this trees are still being felled at an alarming rate.

The World Bank estimates that we've lost 1.3 million square kilometers of forest since 1990. That's an area larger than South Africa. Another way of looking at it: 500 Aussie rules pitches or 800 UK football pitches have been cut down every hour since 1990. 

The Nature Journal estimates there are 3 trillion trees and we cut down 15 billion trees a year. So if no new trees grew as of today in 200 years there wouldn't be a tree left on the planet. The global number of trees has nearly halved (down 46%) since the start of human civilisation.

Trees are cut down to produce wood and paper products with loggers cutting down trees to build roads to access more remote forests. But more than half of global deforestation is to make way for livestock grazing, producing palm oil, growing soya predominantly for animal feed, mining, drilling and urbanisation.

Approximately 1.6 billion people including 2000 indigenous cultures depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuels food and shelter. Forests are also one of the most diverse ecosystems and home to more than 80% of the land animals, plants and insects.

Trees are critical to our future and too precious to lose. 

The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has designated the UN World Wildlife Day (3rd Match 2021) as a theme of “Forests and livelihoods: sustaining people and planet”. Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

We are on the brink of a quadruple planetary emergency: a climate crisis, a biodiversity-loss crisis, an inequality crisis, and a global health crisis. Forests and forest communities are at the center of each of these challenges.

As individuals what can we do?

  • Stop printing and go paperless as possible.
  • Make sure that paper and cardboard end up in the recycling bin.
  • Buy more products made from recycled material.
  • Buy only wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (look for the FSC logo).
  • Stop using products containing palm oil. (This is much harder than you may think!).
  • Support companies that produce products by causing minimal harm to the environment or are part of a plant a tree program.
  • Get involved with international and locally-focused organizations that strive for the protection of forests from deforestation and apply sustainable forestry practices.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Stop eating meat and become vegan.
  • Spread the word and share this list with a friend.

Find out more about how you can get involved at the World Wildlife Day website or read more about why going vegan can change our future.