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Solutions to Deforestation

"I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues"
-The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

Around the world, forests are being logged for timber and paper pulp and cleared to grow mono-crops like palm oil and soy while they are deteriorating from the impacts of global warming. Deforestation is a major driver of global warming, responsible for up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions–more than all the cars, trucks, planes, boats and trains in the world combined. 

Deforestation doesn’t just threaten our climate, it threatens the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people that rely on forests for food and economic activity. Forests also serve as habitats to rare and undiscovered animal and plant species and play a key role in providing water and preventing flooding and erosion.

Ending deforestation and protecting forests will not only preserve biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities, it is also one of the quickest and cost effective ways of curbing global warming.  Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation, globally, by 2020.

Drivers of Deforestation

Drivers of deforestation vary from region to region-below are examples of human activity driving the destruction of the world’s natural forests.

  • Agri-business- the largest driver of deforestation, in which vast areas of natural forest are burned or cleared in order to raise cattle or grow cash mono crops like palm oil and soy. Palm oil and soy are used in a wide array of products ranging from toothpaste, chocolate, animal feed and cosmetics.
  • Industrial logging for timber, pulp and wood fiber to create building materials and consumer products like office paper, tissue, books, magazines and packaging.
  • Mining for metals such as gold, copper, or aluminum clears large tracts of natural forests and contaminate forest eco-systems with their runoff.
  • Road Building through forests fragments the landscape, endangers wildlife habitat and provides access points for illegal loggers and other business operations that encroach into the forest.
  • Hydroelectric dams flood upstream forests, leading to widespread forest loss, habitat degradation and displacement of forest communities and wildlife.

The Solutions

Combating deforestation is a complex issue that requires a variety of approaches. Here are a few key solutions that Greenpeace supports

1. Corporations & Markets

If corporations have the ability to destroy the world's intact forests, they also have the power to help save them.

Companies can make an impact by introducing zero-deforestation policies that require suppliers to produce commodities such as timber, beef, soy, palm oil and paper fiber in a way that has a minimal impact on natural forests and the climate. Companies can also introduce paper procurement policies that set ambitious targets to maximize use of post consumer recycled wood, pulp, paper and fiber in their products and ensure that any virgin fiber used is certified by a rigorous third party certification system such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Read more about the Forest Stewardship Council.

Greenpeace investigates, exposes and confronts environmental abuse by corporations around the world, and takes action with its supporters. Our campaigns have shifted the buying behavior of major companies, creating immediate impacts in the market and on the ground.

Read More about what corporations like Kimberley-Clark, Kraft and Burger King have done in their effort to minimize their contribution to deforestation

2. Sustainable consumer options

Even you as an individual can make a difference in saving forests by setting the best example . It is a crucial part of the solution to ending worldwide deforestation. As a consumer, you have the power to put pressure on companies that have bad environmental practices. By buying recycled or certified wood products, only supporting brands with zero deforestation policies, and getting others to do the same you send a message to companies to embrace zero deforestation policies.

3. Politics

In order to achieve zero deforestation by 2020 we need ambitious and science-based domestic and international forest policies from our government.

We use U.S. laws like the Wilderness Act, Lacey Act  and the Roadless Rule to protect U.S. forests and stop illegal wood products from entering the U.S. marketplace.

We also support and use treaties like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to help protect forests and the endangered plant and animal species that rely on forests for habitats.

The international community must also urgently commit to mechanisms that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in tropical forest developing nations. Forests for Climate is a landmark proposal for an international funding mechanism to protect tropical forests. Developing countries with tropical forests that choose to participate in Forests for Climate would make commitments to protecting their forests and in exchange would have the opportunity to receive funding for capacity-building efforts and for national-level reductions in deforestation emissions. This would provide a strong incentive for developing countries to continually improve their forest protection programs.

Read more about Forests for Climate.

Read more about forest protection deals.

What you can do

Take Action against corporations that source material from endangered forests!

Right now Greenpeace is pressuring US corporation Herackles Farms to halt a project  that would bulldoze a massive plot of rainforest in Cameroon to make room for a palm oil plantation. Tell Herackles to stop this forest destruction before it's too late.

Wield your consumer power!

  • Make sure that the forest derived products you buy are made from 100% post-consumer content materials
  • Buy only from companies that have a commitment to reducing deforestation through an environmentally friendly purchasing policy
  • If you are buying products made from virgin forest fiber, make sure that it bears a seal from a credible forestry certification system, like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Read more about the FSC and false forms of forest certification
  • As a consumer ask questions about how the products you buy impact the forests.
  • Educate your friends, family, and community about how our actions here can impact forests thousands of miles away.

Volunteer with the Greenpeace Activist Network and work on the forest campaign!

Donate to protect forests!