(This is Part 4 in a daily report about replanting the rainforest that is being distributed worldwide by volunteers via blogs, Twitter and Facebook to bring awareness of the program and knowledge about its process and its intent. These reports will continue until Earth Day 2009. I hope you will spread it to others you know via your blog or Twitter or Facebook).
According to the World Resource Institute based at Washington DC (U.S.A.), the rates of rainforest destruction are 2.4 acre per second, 149 acres per minute, 214000 acres per day and 78 million acres per year.
These are truly daunting numbers.
To solve the problem of deforestation, we have to plant forests, not just trees.
The definition of deforestation is not the loss of trees, but the change of land use from forested to some other use. If trees are lost even through clear cutting, if the land is left alone, the trees will come back eventually.
In order to reforest, we have to permanently return land to forest use. If you go out and plant trees anywhere you want – perhaps farmers will let you plant on their property, for example – you haven’t yet reforested. This is because eventually someone can cut down those trees because of the value represented there. Very often, someone protects a section of their property and never cuts the trees, but after they die, the property is sold and their protected forest is cleared and turned to another use.
This is also a problem that governments don’t seem to handle very well. As seen in the USA, what one administration protects, another administration harvests. As pressure grows on governments because of the debt they all seem to build, the forest is being liquidated – just like those who own properties often sell their trees to help pay off debt or for money to live.
Almost anyone would eventually cut down their trees if economic pressures were severe enough. If you own your own home, where it stands was probably a forest at one time. Would you willingly abandon your home (and the money it represents) in order to let the forest come back? Most likely not, because the money lost to you would be very significant, and you probably could not afford it.
Voluntary preservation of the forest is not enough. This is why it is so difficult to stop deforestation in the tropics – a well-grown tree represents a lot of money. In most tropical regions, a farm worker could buy a home with the money from a single mature tree.