A treasury of life
The rain forest is home to an unimaginable variety of species. This means that the rainforest has a very high biodiversity. Biodiversity is an expression of the diversity of living organisms in a defined area. Here the rainforest is a biodiversity ‘hot spot’ because over half of all species living on the land live in tropical forests. The rainforest can therefore be seen as a treasury for genetic wealth.
Forfeiting the rainforest, we will lose species that are irreplaceable and we will never regain. Eradication of a species is forever.
A home for people
The forests are home to millions of people, and even more depend on the resources the forests produce in the form of timber and crops like cocoa and other fruits and more. A large part of the world’s remaining rainforest areas are inhabited by indigenous peoples.
The indigenous people help protect the rainforests in the areas they live in. In fact, you can often see where the indigenous people have their territories if you look at historical maps of rainforest eradication. Forest areas with indigenous people still stand, while the surrounding areas are cleared for timber or agriculture.
In many countries, indigenous peoples do not have legal rights to the forest areas. It is the state or others who own the forests on paper, although the native people lived there long before, the state even came to. It is unfair and contrary to international human rights.
Part of the climate
In addition to the world’s largest biodiversity, rainforests have a major impact on both the local and global climate. The rainforest’s many species and lush vegetation produce enough nutrition and energy to keep the entire ecosystem running. In addition, so much water from the rainforest evaporates every day that it is diluted and falls over the forest again. Part of the water that evaporates from the rainforest, however, rises so high at the time that it is first settled and falls like rain over, among other things, Europe. Thus, the rainforest also has a bearing on the weather and the rain here with us in Denmark.
Rainforest is important for the climate. It produces rain to the rest of the world, binds CO2 and other greenhouse gases and thus prevents them from contributing to global warming. It is estimated that the clearance of forest accounts for between 10-15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing clearing of forests is therefore an effective and cheap way to counteract climate change.
An ecological resource
The rivers, streams and wetlands of the forest provide 75% of the world’s available freshwater resources, which will cover all our domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs. The forests ensure the freshwater of the planet, and wetland forests are essential for managing our freshwater resources. They therefore contribute essential to life on Earth.
There are many reasons to look after the forests, both tropical and all other forests:
• The forests, especially the tropical rainforests, house a very large part of the Earth’s animal and plant species. Biodiversity, or the diversity of species and variations, may in the long term be one of the most important reasons to take care of our forests.
• The forests stabilize the global climate by acting as a carbon stock. Reforestation and persistent harvesting and new planting / rejuvenation (as in Danish forestry) counteracts greenhouse effect, because CO 2 is the “building block” of the trees. Deforestation creates greenhouse effect because the carbon and wood dust is released as greenhouse gases, including CO 2 .
• The forests, like all other vegetation, convert solar and CO 2 (= carbon dioxide) into plant material and oxygen (see, however, “the lung of the earth?” Later in this text).
• The forests give us timber, food, firewood, animal feed, medicine etc.
• The forests protect the soil from leaching and desertification, and improve or maintain the growth conditions in the soil.
• The forests stabilize the waterway between underground (groundwater) and the atmosphere (precipitation).
• The forests lean and stabilize the temperature.
• The forests provide experience (and tourist income).