July 20, 2022
Rainforests are ecosystems primarily filled with evergreen trees that receive high amounts of rainfall. Besides being home to nearly half of the world’s biodiversity, tropical rainforests produce, store, and filter water, protecting against floods, soil erosion, and drought.
Humans have destroyed nearly half of the world’s rainforests, changing landscapes and affecting livelihoods, health, biodiversity, and the planet’s climate. Due to habitat loss from deforestation, many animal species are close to extinction, which could ruin the balance of these ecosystems.
Tropical forests previously served as the Earth’s carbon sinks. Due to forest loss caused by humans, forests now emit more carbon than they absorb.
Restoring tropical rainforests and their ability to sequester carbon is a vital step in addressing the global climate change crisis.
A Climate Regulator
Tropical forests help control temperatures globally and cool and balance local micro-climates. By limiting the Earth’s reflectivity, they aid in stabilizing ocean currents, wind, and rainfall patterns.
Compounds found in diverse rainforest plants are used to make anti-cancer drugs and to treat dysentery, malaria, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, tuberculosis, diabetes, and many other health issues.
Zoonoses are infectious diseases that are transmitted between species from animals to humans. 75% of new infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin, resulting from human and animal contact. Deforestation is a major source of environmental degradation that causes new human and animal interactions.
Defending the Trees
Unaffordable health services and medications often drive local communities to cut down trees to pay for care. Ensuring healthcare access and sustainable livelihoods (such as organic farming) allows these communities to rely less on illegal logging, thus conserving rainforests and promoting health and well-being worldwide.