How You Can Help Rain Forests!
All our butterflies come
from rain forests. These tropical forests have stood for
millennia and yet they are now disappearing in just a
couple of generations. It seems that while we are all
aware of their destruction, many people feel at a loss
on how exactly they can help.
Here are a number of practical steps we can each take to save the rain forests.
Buy FSC wood products such as timber, hardboard, charcoal and paper.
The Forest Stewardship Council logo (FSC) ensures that the forest recovers after timber extraction. Forests are sustainable and trees can grow back if they are given half a chance. Most timber in B&Q is FSC certified but you have to look out for the logo in other DIY stores. Remember that most of the hardboard and chipboard in the UK is made up of non-sustainable, often illegal tropical timber. FSC is the most important way to help forests and their animals.
Buy recycled paper as well as recycling it. This is the only way to be sure that your paper is not cutting down forest. Whenever wood pulp is involved, try and buy recycled products, e.g. kitchen and toilet paper, A4 sheets from Viking Direct. The recycling industry is not financially viable unless we actually buy the recycled goods.
Reduce use of Palm Oil. There are now whole landscapes transformed into this one monotonous palm, related to the Coconut. The oil in the fruits are pressed to yield the palm oil. This is causing deforestation on an unimaginable scale; all driven by our 'developed world' markets. These tropical oils are the cheapest and least healthy vegetable oils and are used in a multitude of processed food, biscuits, peanut butter, as well as soap, in fact 10% of our supermarket products is an often quoted figure. Anything labelled 'vegetable oil' will be oil from palm oil plantations. There are still far too few alternatives available for palm oil. Switch to margarine and cooking oils made from sunflower or olive oil is fairly easily. See here for new palm-oil-free soaps coming on to the market.
Biofuels have the potential to overtake all other reasons for rain forest destruction. Our Energy needs for transport and heating are 25-50 times our food needs. Like the food issue above, the cheapest oil is from oil palm plantations that are responsible for mass destruction on vast scales. Oil palms are extremely efficient at producing oil; the palms grow in the tropics where the sun is at its zenith and they don't have a winter to slow up fruiting.
If you are swapping to biofuels for environmental reasons, try and use rape seed oil that is produced in the UK and not transported half way around the world in the first place.
Buy Alpro Soya milk. Soya
beans are a major cause of forest destruction. Alpro
soya is not sourced from farms that have cleared rain
forest. Huge tracts of the Amazon are cut down to plant
soya to feed animals such as pigs and chickens that we
buy as 'cheap meats' in the supermarket.
Buy an acre of rain forest www.rainforestconcern.org Tel. 0207 229 2093 buys forest to link up protected areas so that animals can move freely between the two. See also www.worldlandtrust.org. Why not join up with a group or school to help them.
Buy rain forest-friendly coffee
e.g. Percol from Somerfield, or Rainforest
alliance-certified coffee which is grown in the shade of
the forest canopy. This generates cash while saving the
forest canopy. Most coffee brands use new varieties that
have been bred to grow in the full sunlight where they
give higher yields but are responsible for forest
Cacao and chocolate is mostly better than open-grown coffee! It is more often planted by local farmers and grows under the shade of the forest canopy. Cash is generated while most of the forest and its animals remain intact.
Buy Brazil nuts - Fantastic! These always come from intact tropical forests. The bees that pollinate the Brazil nut trees need rare species of orchids which are only found in natural forests. Without the bees, the Brazil trees aren't pollinated and there's no fruit. Any product that generates cash from intact forest will help persuade people and their governments to help preserve them.
Vist a rain forest reserve if you
are out in the tropics. Rain forests will only
be saved if more money comes out of them than if they
were cut down and planted with cash crops. Game parks
have seen spectacular success with conservation in
Africa and rain forest eco-tourism is already helping
save species. Costa Rica appreciated early on the
advantage in eco-tourism and now has one of the most
progressive conservation strategies of any tropical
Donate money to a rain forest charity.
Offset your part in the destruction of forests by donating to one of the rain forest charities.
or ourselves at www.magicoflife.org. See our appeal.