It’s not a pleasant statistic, but 2,000 trees are chopped down in the Amazon rainforest every 60 seconds to make room for agriculture. Additionally, 1,600 of those trees are chopped down every minute just to make room for cattle to graze and to grow livestock feed. If these rates of deforestation continue, there likely won’t be any rainforests left in the next 100 years.
Our little green planet is growing less green by the minute, but one project hopes to combat deforestation by planting 73 million trees. The project is led by Conservation International and is the world’s largest-ever tropical reforestation effort. The massive project aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon by 2023.
Sadly, since the 1970s, it is estimated that 20 percent of the Amazon has been chopped down – largely due to encroaching industries (cattle ranching is a major source of this deforestation as Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef) that seek to exploit the forests natural resources. The lost of this precious forest has a profound impact considering the Amazon rainforest is home to 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity.
“The fate of the Amazon depends on getting this right – as do the region’s 25 million residents, its countless species and the climate of our planet,” M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, said in a statement about the daring project. The project is a partnership between Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment and the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund.
And how exactly do you plant millions of trees in such a short amount of time? The planting technique is called muvuca and the plan is to sow selected native species over burnt land. In the short term, Conservation International plans to restore 70,000 acres (roughly the size of 30,000 soccer fields) that have been cleared for pastureland. More than 90 percent of native tree species planted with the muvuca strategy germinate, according to a 2014 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Bioversity International. So far, a couple million trees have been planted, helping Brazil move toward their Paris Agreement goal of restoring 12 million hectares (29 million acres) of land by 2030.
The impact that our appetite for meat and dairy has on the planet extends far beyond what is happening in the Amazon. Our global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis.
This destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.
You can easily take deforestation off the menu at your table by choosing to eat more plant-based foods. You’ll also drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. To learn more about how you can start, join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet movement. For more information on Conservation International, click here.
Image Source: Roberto Marchegiani/Flickr