We Can Prevent Rainforest Destruction

The destruction of our world's rain forests is happening faster than anyone could have imagined even 10 years ago. (1) UNEP, the UN's Environment Programme, recently published these disturbing words in a report on closed forests, "Short of a miraculous transformation in the attitude of people and governments, the Earth's remaining closed-canopy forests and associated biodiversity are destined to disappear in the coming decade." Too much is being lost to our people way too fast. Immediate action is required right now to make the miracle take place. World citizens have just got to stop destroying the natural resources of our world. Young people must be at the forefront of this movement, because it's the world which our generation is going to very shortly going to inherit the stewardship of, which is in jeopardy.

Rainforests actually produce the oxygen we need to breathe, and are the source of most of the medicines in use today. Where would we be without them?

The good news is, that there are clear and logical steps every person can take which will help slow down and reduce rainforest destruction. Most of the destruction is due to unhealthy lifestyles endemic to industrialized societies across the globe. So all we need to do is contained in three steps:

I'm going to expand on step one to share a little taste of what modifying our consumer lifestyle will mean to each of us. This is probably going to be the most difficult line item for American citizens to change. Consumerism is defined by the Oxford American Dictionaries (2) as "the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods." It's a huge world, after all. Someone has to cut down all of its trees in order to stock Ikea stores with disposable furniture, don't they? The greedy desire to indulge in to repopulating our homes with new furniture every couple of years – when nothing except age is wrong with their old furniture – is only one aspect of over-consumption which most of our families are guilty of. It's also a major factor motivating the mass deforestation of rainforests in order to capture the wood which goes into making that furniture.

The integration of fast food lifestyles in every technologized country also aids in deforestation. Just think of the massive amount of disposable chopsticks produced – and thrown out after 20 minutes of use – every year from trees which when alive were the homes of thousands of insects, birds and tropical animals we enjoy learning about and which contribute diversity and beauty to our world – and which also produced oxygen for us to breathe. Paper is another product rainforests are being sacrificed to produce.

The waste I've mentioned doesn't seem serious enough? Consider this: larger and larger tracts of rainforest land are being stripped for cattle grazing. (3) The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization reports that an area the size of the country of Panama is lost every year [200 km2 per day], (4) or 6000 acres (about 4000 football fields) per hour according to Cal Tech. (5) With the availability of more paper and more beef cattle, obviously the fast food chains are obliged to take this surplus off of our hands, right. Can we stand so much generosity?

Some staggering statistics on what waste is costing our society, were published last month in the Tucson Citizen:

Jones, a professor at the University of Arizona, contends that this dysfunctional relationship with food costs the U.S. economy $200 billion a year in waste and health care costs. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of treating obesity in the United States is $100 billion. (6)

Serious steps are being taken by green activists to stop the madness of rain forest destruction due to gluttony. And as time goes on, the activists' efforts are being supported by people who don't consider themselves activists. They simply don't want their world destroyed by corporate greed. The efforts to stop rainforest destruction are growing in strength and the voices of people who want it to stop, are being heard in record numbers.

A major victory for forest preservation was reported by the Wall Street Journal in September, 2003, the "Boise Cascade Corp. agreed to stop buying wood products from the world's endangered forests, bowing to the kind of intense pressure from customers and environmental activists that is increasingly leading forest-products purveyors to adopt greener practices." Boise is a decades-old international paper manufacturer and also owner of the OfficeMax office supply store chain since July of 2003. (7)

  1. UNEP (2001). An Assessment of the Status of the World's Remaining Closed Forests. UNEP/DEWA/TR 01-2.
    Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA)
    United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP )
    P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya

  2. Distributed by Apple Computer
  3. The 'McSpotlight' Internet site www.mcspotlight.org. McLibel Support Campaign, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX, UK. Tel/Fax +44-(020) 7 713 1269

Organisations working to save our world's rainforests offer these tips and resources:

Forestethics.org is putting pressure on large paper producers and vendors to stop harvesting old trees. They suggest that people:

  1. "Don't buy old growth," and
  2. "Get involved in the campaign! Call OfficeMax and let company executives know you're looking for them to lead on the environment: 216-921-6900."
  3. More info at

    Check out the youth resources at UNEP

    Here you can find a speaker for your youth group or school, learn about managing waste properly, and about sustainable development. Chat with other young people who are also interested in this topic. There are plenty of us.

    More info at

    The Rainforest Action Network publishes these tips for things any person can do to help save our rainforests.


    The Australian Rainforest Education Centre has an even longer list, of 10 steps which need to be globally implemented in order to halt deforestation.

    The The Nature Conservancy manages a program

    which for cultivating crops like cocoa and tea, which "protect both the forest and the livelihoods of local communities because cocoa and tea require shade for successful growth, thus ensuring a healthy forest and income for the cocoa and tea growers." A $75 donation to the Adopt an Acre® program will help protect an acre of rainforest habitat.

    "Killing Butterflies to Save Butterflies"

    Tropical nuts? Eco-tourism? Sorry. Raising or collecting insects to sell is the only incentive some indigenous peoples have to save their tropical forests. Will you support them?

    Buy products of the rainforest

    The case for saving tropical forests is clear. Many support this by buying "products of the rainforest," or helping conservation organisations working in tropical nations . . . The fact is, buying tropical insects for your collection may be the best investment you ever made in tropical forest protection.

    See more at

    Visit a rainforest in a US city near you!

    The Baltimore Aquarium has a huge rainforest exhibition populated with real animals and plants. One news source has this to say about it:

    "In addition to housing rare seahorses, the Aquarium offers the closest experience many visitors ever have to a natural rainforest. More than 500 species of plants thrive in its humid rainforest exhibit, including mahogany. American mahogany and other similar species have been harvested from the natural environment for furniture and other goods, and some populations have been devastated by as much as 70 percent. Other important and familiar plants in the Rain Forest include cacao (chocolate) trees, plumeria, allspice and coconut trees.

    More than 20 bird species also thrive in the Rain Forest exhibit; their counterparts in the wild are threatened by deforestation. The yellow-headed Amazon parrots, found in the exhibit, are one of three species now prohibited from trade," by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

    New York's Central Park Zoo has a small, but beautiful, rainforest too!

    And now the Bronx Zoo has its own rainforest . . .

    Other Links

    • Working to save forests and wildlife:
    • The Benefits of Recycling
      Fact cited: "A recycled six-pack of aluminum cans could save enough energy to drive a car five miles. One can equals the amount of energy a can half-full of gasoline would produce. (San Diego County Office of Education 1991. RAYS — Recycle and You Save."
    • McWorld on Trial
      McDonald's has been sued in the UK by an organization which is part of a network protesting, "the promotion of junk food, the unethical targeting of children, exploitation of workers, animal cruelty, damage to the environment and the global domination of corporations over our lives."