We can still end deforestation

by Anant Naik

Every year, 16 million hectares of forestland disappear. Many corporations slash jungles in the hunt for resources, which destroys local ecosystems. In terms of tropical rainforests, recent estimates suggest that about 100,000 square kilometers are deforested each year and another 100,000 square kilometers are degraded. Yikes. With the numbers seeming to grow exponentially every year, one can only ask whether weâÄôre doing enough to preserve the integrity of our ecosystems and our planetâÄôs forests. In the White House summary of President Barack ObamaâÄôs most recent climate change agenda, there was no mention of preserving forestland. As usual, though, it discussed the implications of cutting carbon emissions. Though the situation seems bleak, there does appear to be a glimmer of hope. Last week, Archer Daniels Midland, one of the worldâÄôs largest commodity suppliers, joined a pledge promising to conserve threatened forests. ADM now joins companies like Cargill, Kellogg and Nestle in promising to end commodity-driven deforestation by 2030. The Environmental Defense Fund described this increased commitment as a potential tipping point. Corporations may finally be realizing that preserving forestland is important to communities as well as to their own businesses. However, corporations arenâÄôt the only ones making strides toward reducing deforestation. President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil has made them. too. Though BrazilâÄôs deforestation rate increased last year, its net rate has been considerably reduced since 2004. WhatâÄôs more impressive is that Brazil has managed this feat while increasing the amount of food it produces. While no form of progress on this problem is perfect, the country is pursuing a sustainable model. Other countries may also be slowly following suit. IndonesiaâÄôs deforestation rates have also slowed down significantly. The World Resources Institute indicated that the past decadeâÄôs surge in deforestation might be losing momentum. Though the world is making progress, by no means is it enough. Some studies have shown that, although deforestation has increased, the net âÄúgreen spaceâÄù of the world is increasing. What most fail to account for, though, is that this green space is not uniformly distributed. Carter Roberts, the president of the World Wildlife Fund, has argued that we canâÄôt solve climate change without first solving deforestation. Later this year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris. Countries will make promises to reduce carbon emissions and pollution. ItâÄôs important that they donâÄôt forget the importance of reducing deforestation. Though a few corporations and countries have worked to reduce deforestation, their efforts still must be regulated internationally to hold them to their commitments. Unfortunately, only time will tell what will actually happen. Perhaps a good question to ask is âÄúhow much time do we have?âÄù