By now virtually everyone on the planet knows that we are cutting down forests at an alarming and unsustainable rate. Yet we continue to do it, year after year. Why is this and what’s to be done?
Here are a couple of leading causes of forest destruction:
1. A very high percentage of rural poor throughout the world make their “living” directly from the environment. It’s their source of water, land and food. If they can make an extra $100 by cutting a tree and selling it to a middleman RIGHT NOW, they’ll do it.
2. People in developed areas of the world may not give a damn where their furniture and phone books come from. Or if they know, they still don’t care.
What are the possible solutions? Keeping in mind that all conservation efforts are local and that folks will only sign on when they see their self-interests being served:
#1, Demonstrate to indigenous peoples how they may be better off economically and environmentally by not cutting that tree. Each area is unique, but there are some commonalities the can be demonstrated: preservation of watersheds, better fishing and hunting grounds, enhanced possibilities for ecotourism, better farming soils from decreased runoff, positive religious implications from safeguarding Mother Earth.
#2, In the urban environment, keeping things local; remind folks that trees shade their cars on hot days. Where they abut buildings, help to lower air conditioning costs; absorb urban sound, look cool and provide homes for birds.
After all, self interest is pretty close to home. No matter what form your home may take.