A 20-year study the UN Foundation has shown that deforestation and introduction of non-native species has led to about 12.5% of the world’s plant species to become critically rare. (In fact, as an example, the study suggests that the Amazon damage is worse than previously thought, due to previously undetected types of selective logging and deforestation.)
A report from the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development suggests that the forests of the world have been exploited to the point of crisis and that major changes in global forest management strategies would be needed to avoid the devastation.
What also makes this a problem is that many of the endangered species are only found in small areas of land, often within the borders of a single country.
New species of animals and plants are still being discovered. In Papua New Guinea, 44 new species of animals were discovered recently in the forests. Logging may affect these animals’ habitats, though. The loss of rainforests around the world, where many species of life are found will mean that potential knowledge, whether medicinal, sustenance sources, or evolutionary and scientific information etc. could be lost.
The UN’s 3rd Global Biodiversity Outlook report notes that forests:
- Are approximately 31% of the Earth’s land surface,
- Contain more than half of all terrestrial animal and plant species (mostly in the tropics), and
- Account for more than two-thirds of net primary production on land – the conversion of solar energy into plant matter.
Deforestation, however, continues at an alarming rate, despite recent decreases in several tropical countries. However, people have been fighting to stop biodiversity loss, deforestation and land degradation. Here are some of the initiatives contributing to a better life on land:
The Global Drylands Initiative (GDI) supports the sustainable management of dryland ecosystems and the conservation of dryland biodiversity. The GDI strengthens knowledge and capacity to adapt policies and investments to the unique conditions of the drylands. The Initiative strengthens natural resource governance in drylands through strengthening of resource rights, establishment of institutional mechanisms for ecosystem management, and development of enabling conditions for policy implementation and revision.
The Governance of Forests Initiative seeks to improve the participation, transparency, and responsiveness of government practices that impact forest land allocation and use in Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia, as well as globally through international instruments. They produce knowledge on pressing forest governance challenges; generate constructive dialogue on how to improve governance of land and forests; and advance reforms from local to global arenas.
Million Tree Challenge is a community-wide initiative to inspire people to plant one million new trees across the city – in every corner and neighbourhood. Trees provide many benefits including improved air quality, reduced heating and cooling costs, shadier more walkable streets, increased home values, more attractive shopping and downtown areas and greener recreation areas. Everyone is invited to register all the trees they have planted since January 2011 and see the big tree counter tick toward one million. Any tree, planted anywhere, by anyone counts!
The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.
The Great Green Wall is an African-led project with an epic ambition: to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. Its goal is to provide food, jobs and a future for the millions of people who live in a region on the frontline of climate change. Once completed, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on Earth and a new Wonder of the World.
Believe in the power of small actions that can change the world. Be part of the solution!