6 Ways You Can Help Protect the Rainforests

Rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. In fact, half of the planets rainforests have been destroyed in just a century! The environmental impact of rainforest destruction is also huge, with deforestation being the second biggest contributor to climate change, responsible for 18-25% of global carbon emissions every year.  As humans we have a duty to try and protect our beautiful rainforests and the animals, plants, and people that live in it. In this blog we will highlight some things that you can do to help protect our rainforests!

protect rainforests

Why are rainforests important?

Rainforests aren’t just beautiful, they are also home to many diverse plant and animal species. In fact, around half of the worlds animal species live in tropical rainforests! This means that rainforest destruction poses a big threat, with many animals in the rainforest considered endangered. Rainforests also play a role in mitigating climate change, as they absorb carbon dioxide. A study by Nature Climate Change showed that forests actually absorbed twice as much carbon as they emitted between 2001 and 2019.

Rainforests also help protect against floods and droughts, and are a source of medicines and food. In fact, around 25% of all our medicines come from plants growing in the rainforest! Also it is important not to forget that rainforests are home to many indigenous people, who also rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. So as you can see rainforests play a very important role, and we should do everything we can to protect them.

Why are rainforests being destroyed?

You may be wondering, why exactly are rainforests being destroyed? Human actions are the main cause of deforestation. Every year areas of forest equivalent to the size of England and Wales are cleared. And agriculture is one of the biggest contributors, with many rainforests in the Central and South Americas being burnt down so that the land can be used for cattle farming. In the Amazon, cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of deforestation. Due to the destruction of the forest, the soil soon becomes dry and unusable. This leads to a destructive cycle where farmers need to continually clear more rainforest areas to use. Deforestation is also caused by the production of crops such as palm oil, as forests are burned to clear areas for oil palm to be grown.

Logging is thought to be the second largest cause of deforestation. Timber companies cut down vast amounts of trees at a time, and sell this timber to other countries which they use to make items like furniture. Logging is also used for resources like paper that many of us use in day to day life. This leads to extensive destruction of our rainforests and wildlife habitat. Mining is another cause of rainforest destruction. Mining is carried out to satisfy the demand for precious metals and minerals like gold and diamonds which can be found below rainforests. The mining process means the rainforest must be destroyed, causing soil erosion and loss of biodiversity. Chemicals are also often used in the mining process such as mercury, which can then pollute rivers. This poses a risk to wildlife and humans that may drink from the water.

What can I do to protect rainforests?

You may think as an individual there is not much you can do, but that is not the case! There are many things that you can do as an individual to help protect our amazing rainforests. Here are 6 ways you can help protect the rainforests!

1. Reduce your beef consumption

protect rainforests

Due to agricultures highly damaging impact on our rainforests, one thing you can do is to reduce the amount of meat in your diet, particularly beef. You don’t need to suddenly become a vegan, even having a couple of meat free days a week can help. You could also source your meat from local farmers that farm sustainably.

2. Be conscious of your palm oil consumption

Peoples awareness of palm oil and its impact on the rainforest has become more well-known recently. Palm oil is used in foods like cake and chocolate, and so many products that you may not even realise, such as makeup and shampoo! According to the WWF, over half of all packaged products Americans consume contains palm oil! Cutting out palm oil completely is very difficult since it is in so many things, but there are things you can do to reduce your palm oil consumption. You can research palm-oil free foods to see what products you could switch to. You can also look for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. The RSPO holds companies to account to produce sustainable palm oil. Even if a company says it is RSPO certified u may still need to do some digging to make sure all of its palm oil derivatives are sustainable.

3. Use less paper and wood

Consumption of wood and paper leads to trees being cut down and rainforest habitat being destroyed. But there are small things you can do to reduce how much wood and paper you use! You should try to purchase second-hand items like wooden furniture instead of buying brand new. You should also keep an eye out for products that use recycled wood and paper. And you can also reduce your paper usage by going digital and typing your documents on a computer instead of using a traditional notepad. Investing in something like a kindle is also a great way to lower your paper consumption. Also remember that you can often request to go paperless with things like bills and bank statements. Small things like this will definitely add up over time!

4. Look for certifications

There are certifications you can look out for on products. The main one that you should also look out for the Rainforest Alliance Certified logo, a little frog. This certification means that the product was produced in a way that protects rainforests and supports social, economic and environmental sustainability. You can read more here about what this certification means.

5. Plant a tree

protect rainforests

It seems small, but every tree planted is helping to fight deforestation. Trees provide oxygen, clean water, provide homes for wildlife, and tackle climate change. You can pay for trees to be planted on your behalf in the rainforests through the One Tree Planted organisation.

6. Support charities

There are some amazing charities that you can support to protect rainforests. You can donate money to help, or you can help in other ways, like sharing their projects on social media and raising awareness. You could even do an activity like a sponsored walk to raise money! The Rainforest Trust are a great charity that purchase and protect the most threatened rainforests. This helps preserve biodiversity and save endangered animals. They use 100% of donations they receive towards conservation action! You can also support indigenous causes who are heavily impacted by rainforest destruction. The Amazon Conservation Team work hand-in-hand with indigenous people to protect the Amazon rainforest. You can also talk to friends and family about how they can help protect the rainforests too! Every person that does their bit adds up!

We hope that this blog has provided some insight into why protecting our rainforests is so important, and how you can do your bit! Let us know in the comments if you have any ideas to add, we’d love to hear them! You can also read our blog post about how to lower your carbon footprint and protect our planet here.

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