Natural forests – afforestation and protection, to overcome the urgent challenges of our time
According to a new report by WWF, the loss of biodiversity is becoming faster and faster. Since 1970, we have already lost 68% of all species. Even more drastic than this global number, is Costa Rica’s loss of 94% of its biodiversity. The main threat here is the loss of natural habitats and the effects of climate change. For this reason, the UN has declared this decade to be the decade of “Restoring ecosystems”. Currently, 4.7 million hectares of rainforest are being cut down every year – a rainforest as big as Lower Saxony. The main reason remains to be the increase of land used by agricultural food industry. The loss of forest habitat further increases already existing effects of climate change, but also brings along entirely new, additional challenges as well. The storm count for the current hurricane season in Central America has already reached 30. Out of these 30 heavy storms, 13 developed into full hurricanes, with the destructive power to force 1.5 million people into humanitarian aid programs. Afforesting and conserving forests offers protection in two ways: Greenhouse gases are pulled from the atmosphere and bound in biomass. This process effectively slows down the advance of climate change. On the other hand, forests serve as buffers to alleviate the damages of strong storms, floods and mud slides – and last but not least, they create a strong, resilient ecosystem.
Despite all of this, the corona pandemic proves to be one of the most dominant crisis of our days. Experts all across the planet have predicted that this might not be the last pandemic we will have to face. Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns: “If we continue exploiting our ecosystems and the animals that live within them, we should be expecting a storm of these new diseases in the coming years Diseases, which are transmitted from animals to humans.” The destruction of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity are trailblazers for the transmission of diseases from animals to humans.