Save the Rainforest

Rainforests provide many important ecological services, carbon sequestration and habitats. They are vast lungs for the planet, creating oxygen and provide many products that we use every day. They are also very complex living systems, with thousands of species of plants and animals. Rainforests are in danger of disappearing from overuse. Once a rainforest has been logged, it can take hundreds of years to regrow to the complex ecosystem that it was. The world is interconnected, and humans must create space for awareness in daily consumer decisions. Many developing countries have enjoyed unlimited resources for a long time at the expense of the rainforest. The future of our extraordinary planet depends on each one of us making conscious consumer choices.

The rainforest has been called the “lungs of the plant” because it continuously converts pollution into oxygen, giving the earth clean air. I have spent time in the rainforest in Central America which has given me a greater understanding of how imperative it is that we protect the existing rainforest around the world. If deforestation of the rainforest continues, humans could see an end to the world’s rainforest in our lifetime [Source: Taylor].

The reason for rapid deforestation of the rainforest is impart due to logging for hardwoods, agriculture (both slash and burn agriculture) and export crops like banana, coffee, cacao, sugar and beef. When timber is not harvested sustainably the rainforest is destroyed, and so are all the medicinal plants and other resources [Source: Taylor]. The indigenous people that live in the rainforest are lost as well. A medicine man in the rainforest carries a library of knowledge about medical plants, animals and the ecosystem in the rainforest.

Consumers in the United States and other developing countries must put pressure on companies to use sustainable practices and reward companies and businesses that make ethical decisions. Grassroots campaigns have been successful in creating ethical business practices. Home Depot phased out its sale of old growth trees by consumer activist pressuring the company [Source: Common Dreams]. According to Greenpeace, we are losing the ancient rainforest at rapid rates, and an area of nature’s forest is cut down every two seconds [Source: Butler]. We have an obligation to future generations to protect the rainforest so they too can enjoy life on the planet. Find out why on the next page.

Why Save the Rainforest?

The National Cancer Institute has named many plants that protect against cancer, and 70 percent of these are found in the rainforest [Source: Taylor]. There are also many other active ingredients in today's disease-fighting drugs which come from plants found only in the rainforest. Vincristine, which is extracted from the rainforest plant called periwinkle, is one of the world's most powerful anticancer drugs [Source: Taylor]. It has dramatically helped survival rates for acute lymphocytic leukemia. This cause is close to my heart because my husband lost his life to leukemia. There are still so many species of plants that have yet to be discovered and researched in the rainforest. We could be losing cures to diseases by destroying the rainforest.

Fewer indigenous people now live in the rainforest, and medicine men in the rainforest carry a wealth of knowledge about plants that heal and enrich our lives. The ancient wisdom of the rainforest and the indigenous people that inhabit this land should be respected by all people on the planet and not be taken away at the expense of greed for mass consumption at short-term gain. Population has increased 30 percent since the 1980’s which means demand for resources can come at the expense of the environment.  We can all must do our part to protect the rainforest and other natural ecosystems while still maintaining quality of life in the west.

What you can do at Home to protect the Rainforest

  • Use less paper. Purchase tree free paper made from plants.
  • Eat less meat. The rainforest is burned in order to make room for cattle. If you eat meat, buy from locally sustainable farmers. Most fast food industries get their meet from Central America.
  • Use less oil. Petroleum is harmful to the rainforest.
  • Only support companies that are environmentally responsible. Look for those sponsored by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Think globally and buy locally. Buy local, sustainable food. Only support Fair Trade and organic farmers.
  • Always remember the three R’s….reduce, reuse, and recycle. Doing this will help the rainforest and all other ecosystems around the globe.
  • Buy sustainable wood only.

Lots More Information

Related ArticlesSources
  • Taylor, Leslie. (2004). The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs. Square One Publishers, Inc.Garden City.
  • Butler, Rhett A.(2006).  “Diversities of Image - Rainforest Biodiversity.” Mongabay.com / A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests and the Perils They Face. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0305.htm.
  • Common Dreams. (2000). http://www.commondreams.org/pressreleases/august99/082699c.htm.