Thursday, 1 October 2009

Save the Rainforests - The Prince's Rainforest Project

Due to destructive logging activity and the clearing of land for large-scale farming, both offer high financial returns, the world's rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate, and the deforestation threatens the many vital ecosystem benefits that these forests provide.

Cutting down and burning tropical forests to clear the land in this way enables rainforest nations to provide globally traded commodities, such as timber, palm oil, beef, cocoa, coffee, rubber, bio fuels and soy as well as mining and cattle ranching.

The world’s population is likely to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion over the next 40 years. This population growth, combined with rising incomes, will lead to a continual increasing demand for food, animal feed and fuel. And this, in turn, will lead to more destruction of rainforests – with devastating effects for everyone.

Rainforests benefit us all, not just those who live in the nations in which they are found. They store water, regulate rainfall and are home to over half of the planet's biodiversity, but most importantly, they absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2). So they play a critical role in helping to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions (greenhouse gases) that build up in our atmosphere every year. To make matters worse, when they are cut down and burned as they are at the present rate, they are releasing more emissions than the entire global transport sector!

Rainforests absorb almost a fifth of the world’s man-made CO2 emissions every year. But tropical deforestation releases an extra 17% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. It is these emissions that are causing global warming. In simple terms, if we didn't have any rainforests to absorb CO2, the temperature of the earth would rise, as would sea levels.

Climate change is already happening. We can all see it all around us in the unexpected weather patterns, the flooding, even plants flowering earlier than usual. We are no longer in a position where we can reverse this process, but we might be able to slow the process down to manageable proportions, even if we cannot stop it completely.

In the past 50 years, a third of the world's rainforests have been felled and burned, and deforestation continues, now at the rate of 15 million hectares per year, the equivalent of approximately 8.5 million soccer pitches a year, or 23,483 a day. Although this deforestation averages a loss of less than 1% of the forests per year, it is believed that after the loss of 30-40% of a rainforest that the remaining forest ecosystem may become so destabilised that it will collapse.

In 2007 The Prince of Wales, following reports from the top climate change experts and scientists including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Inaugurated The Prince's Rainforests Project (PRP,)in order to promote the urgent need to take action against tropical deforestation. The Prince of Wales has long been concerned about climate change and about how destruction of the world's rainforests contributes to rising temperatures and sea levels and as a prominent public figure has often faced appalling sarcasm and criticism for his views.

I am a huge fan of the prince's environmental aims and opinions, as he has the courage to stand up and be counted for what he knows is right. For many of us his views may not have been new, but we are the very, very small minority and Prince Charles certainly reaches the parts of society that so many of us will never even have a chance get near.

In The Prince’s own words: "If deforestation can be stopped in its tracks, then we will be able to buy ourselves some much-needed time to build the low carbon economies on which our futures depend. I have endeavoured to create a global public, private and NGO partnership to discover an innovative means of halting tropical deforestation. Success would literally transform the situation for our children and grandchildren and for every species on the planet."

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1 comment:

Square Eyes said...

i was watching lost land of the volcano on BBC its so sad that the rainforests are being ruined the forests there had creatures that hadnt even been discoverd