Why forests


Most of us rarely get closer to wildlife than watching it on TV. Then we’re stunned into silence at the sheer exotic beauty, the colour, the variety and the drama of the natural world around us.

But what if the only way we could ever experience nature like this was to watch a re-run of a National Geographic film or David Attenborough’s incredible Life on Earth series? What if nature as we know it simply disappeared?

This is exactly the situation we’re heading towards – unless we all do something about it.

Did you know that 40% of all life on earth exists in our rainforests? 1

These incredible biodiverse areas are home to around 10 million species of animal, plant and insect life. They provide a livelihood to the indigenous people living in them and the Amazonian rainforest alone provides 20% of the world’s oxygen.

Yet our rainforests – these complex, vital, unique ecosystems – are under constant threat from over-development. If they disappear then all that life vanishes – and we alter evolution forever.

We caused this. Now we are the ones who can stop it.

Amazing rainforests

The tropical landscapes we want to save contain a jaw-dropping amount of wildlife. Spectacular primates, flashing blue butterflies, giant anacondas, pygmy elephants, giant hogs, tigers and flying dragons.

And it goes further. Our planet’s rainforests contain over 65% of the world’s entire plant species . There are vines as thick as your body and others up to 3,000 metres long. Bananas, coffee, cocoa, brazil nut trees, rubber trees and orchids grow there, as do trees and plants that provide local communities – and the rest of the world – with incredibly effective medicines.

Want another amazing fact? Around 700 different species of beetle were once found in just one tree in the rainforest. Multiply that by the millions of trees in our forests and you get a very real sense of how monumentally important they are to so many living creatures.

But is this danger real?

So really, who cares if a few species are endangered? It’s all miles away from where we live, and it won’t affect us if a few trees are cut down, will it?

But it will and in so many ways. We’ve already seen how much oxygen our rainforests produce, how many species live there, the medicines they produce (that we all benefit from) and how local communities rely on them for their livelihoods.

And the crazy thing is, these forests have grown and evolved over thousands of years to be self-sufficient ecosystems. They’ve worked out their own way of working. Big species, like elephants or herds of peccaries in a rainforest landscape act like its gardeners. They root through the soil, disperse seeds, and distribute fertilizer.

But if just these animals were to disappear through over-hunting (which is a very real danger), then the trees can’t pass their genes around, seeds fail to germinate and the forest begins to fail.

And these animals are just one fraction of a single percentage of the species in the rainforests. There is a hugely important function that each species plays in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem and all are interdependent on each other.

After the damage we have caused these forests over the centuries, it’s up to us to reverse this decline – for everyone’s sake.

© Alvaro Del Campo
© Alvaro Del Campo

Time is running out

When forests are cut down, the habitats of animals are destroyed. And when their homes become fragmented or vanish altogether – and their natural migration routes are disrupted – then species become endangered.

And these rainforests are being cut down at an alarming rate. Which means we are at risk of living in a world without tigers, elephants, rhinos and many more critically endangered species from these beautiful tropical landscapes.

At Ecosphere+ we can’t sit back and let this happen.

We’d love you to get involved with us because when we come together we really can make a difference where it’s needed most.

Make change happen

Whether a rhino or a rainforest lives or dies today, it is in large part down to market forces and economics. History shows these are much more powerful factors than conservation on its own. So at Ecosphere+ we believe in using these market forces to save forests and the magnificent wildlife they contain, not to destroy it.

We do this through giving local communities a reason to keep their trees standing and to manage their landscapes sustainably. That way they – and the wildlife around them – can thrive.

Find out more about the work we do all over the world. We invite you to join us.

Helping to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land

[1] Science Mag (2003) Biodiversity Meets the Atmosphere: A Global View of Forest Canopies