Lily Allen recently made a trip to the Brazilian Rainforest with WWF (not the wrestling show, the Worldwide Fund for Nature), in July Marie Claire printed her journal from the trip. Love or hate the pop princess, the article was food for thought and provided a platform for the problems chopping down the rainforest is causing. I decided to strip it down to ‘need-to-know’ stuff for you:
Fact: Cutting down the rainforest is responsible for up to a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions- that’s more than the entire world’s cars, planes, trains and ships put together. The punishment for for cuttings down tress illegally is a fine but these laws are rarely implemented properly. It seems that the obvious solution, then, would be harsher punishments and proper implementation but Brazil is a poor country and a lot of people rely completely on chopping down trees for an income. The problem is complex, there’s a lot of information and people don’t always want to listen for that long.
As part of her trip Lily visited a condom factory. Brazilians traditionally collect rubber from trees (rubber tapping). To make it a viable business the government built the factory- it’s part of the solution to stop the illegal cutting down of rainforests and prevent the spread of HIV. The condoms are given out for free. The factory pays rubber tappers 4.8 reais (£2.50) per kilo, instead of the usual 1.2 reais (50p) per kilo; this means rubber tapping is profitable and so provides an incentive for people to take up rubber tapping instead of deforestation. Rubber tapping also doesn’t harm trees, it’s sustainable- it’s an all round winner. Unfortunately, this factory is the only place in the world that makes condoms from wild trees. It is possible to make trainers from wild rubber too.
Chopping down the rainforest for cattle ranching is a serious business, it is lucrative and so there are obviously people who want to continue. Elenira Mendes was four when her dad, Chico, was shot in his kitchen for standing up to cattle ranchers in 1988. Elenira found a note from her father on the back of a picture, he wanted her to take up the struggle to save the rainforest. An area of the rainforest the size of three football pitches is lost everyday to make way to cattle ranching, infrastructure or mining. Rainforests play a major role is slowing down global warming by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas which is one of the major contributors to climate change. The Amazon rainforest is also home to one of the richest concentrations of plants and animals on earth. Deforestation puts them at risk.
But, what can we do to help? The Sky Rainforest Rescue project is based in the state of Acre and covers three million hectares of Amazon rainforest (an area roughly the size of Belgium). The project offers a number of ways to help you tackle deforestation. For just £3 a month you can sponsor an acre of forest or adopt a jaguar. Alternatively, a £20 donation will help save 1,000 trees. To find out more visit sky.com/rainforestrescue. And, for more information about how you can help the WWF protect wildlife and the environment, visit wwf.org.uk
Keep the faith,
Source: Marie Claire, issue number 263, July 2010