Every year, the world loses nearly 58,000 square miles of tropical rain forest. That's an area the size of Illinois.
A new analysis by University of Adelaide researchers calls this rate a "trajectory towards disaster" that will lead to the extinction of unique species (60% of all species on Earth live in tropical forests), degrade human health and help contribute to global warming. Forests are being destroyed for farming and development at 10,000 times the rate they would be under natural conditions.
The paper is published in the Ecological Society of America's journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. It calls for an immediate global, multipronged conservation approach to avert the worst outcomes.
"This is not just a tragedy for tropical biodiversity, this is a crisis that will directly affect human livelihoods," says Corey Bradshaw, an author of the paper. "This is not just about losing tiny species found at the base of big trees in a rain forest few people will ever see, this is about a complete change in ecosystem services that directly benefit human life. The majority of the world's population live in the tropics and what is at stake is the survival of species that pollinate most of the world's food crops, purify our water systems, attenuate severe flood risk, sequester carbon (taking carbon dioxide out of the air) and modify climate."
Buy only wood products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Purchase paper products made of post-consumer recycled content, so as to avoid the destruction of trees for paper products.
Reduce, reuse and recycle, so that the wood and paper products you use don't go to waste.
Avoid products containing palm oil, which is often grown after slashing tropical forests.
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