Over the past month or so, it seems that the world is on fire. There have been numerous reports of large expanses of forest in the Amazon, sub-Saharan Africa, and South-East Asia being cleared to make way for agriculture. These fires have been paralleled to those that destroyed the Notre Dame Cathedral back in April. Unlike this fire, it is unlikely that the damage caused will ever be reversed due to their sheer scale.
A number of people have been upset about the fires and it can be quite depressing to watch the planet’s most ecologically rich assets to go up in smoke. However there are things we can do to help prevent such fires becoming a more regular occurrence, although they are quite common in some parts of the world.
First of all, we have to look at our own landscape. A few thousand years ago the UK was covered in mixed deciduous forests that moved more to pine the further north you travelled. Where did all of our trees go? They were cleared long before recorded history for fuel but also to make way for agriculture. This is one of the reasons why the fires in the Amazon have been so large this year – the expansion of cattle ranches. This combined with a very unsympathetic President when it comes to wildlife and conservation is a dangerous mix.
There are things the consumer can do to help. Eating less meat, or cutting it out of your diet completely is one way you can make a direct impact, by weakening the market for these products. If you need bacon and steaks in your life, then consider shopping at a local butchers or farmers market, where the meat has been locally produced and responsibly sourced.
Logging companies are also using forests such as the Amazon to produce wood and timber products. To help reduce the pressure on our remaining forests you can make a few simple changes to reduce your own wood and paper consumption. Why not look at getting a reusable coffee cup instead of the single-use ones used by most coffee shops?
You can also avoid other disposable paper products and where you can’t, try to find alternatives that are sustainable or that contain the highest percentage of recycled content compared with competing brands. Some of the solutions will help to reduce your overall single-use plastic consumption as well, reducing your overall impact on the environment. It’s not hard to find alternatives to all manner of everyday items – the internet is a valuable tool to get you started on your way.
Finally if you’re feeling generous then it may be the time to donate to a campaign that is actively seeking to secure the biodiversity for future generations. There are a number of them out there, it is best that you find one that aligns with your own personal morals and objectives.
It may also be the time to educate yourself on the importance of the rainforests and the biodiversity that they contain. There are untold biological riches contained within them that may provide cures for diseases. They provide a huge contribution to maintaining the global climate by absorbing the carbon dioxide we produce when we burn fossil fuels and produce a large amount of the oxygen we breathe. We all need to fight to protect our forests and to let the world know that it’s not okay to view them as a commodity but instead a vital part of the ecosystems on our planet.