Deforestation is the prime suspect.
30% of the surface of our planet is covered by forests, valuable ecosystems with a rich biodiversity. The current rates of deforestation, for agricultural and commercial purposes, are destroying the green lungs of the earth at an alarming rate. As a result, the survival of many animal and plant species are threatened.
The Living Forests Report, produced by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), shows that by 2050 over 230 million hectares of forest will disappear if no action is taken. That’s an area larger than the entire forests of Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea combined.
Plantations of oil palm and soybeans; agriculture and livestock; wood for fuel and paper; mining; infrastructure, dams and other projects: every minute 26 hectares of forest (equivalent to 35 football fields) are destroyed for these reasons. Man is destroying natural habitats at an increasing rate. The original landscapes are disappearing and in their place appear new cities, motorways, industrial complexes or land used for intensive agriculture. The loss of habitat is today perhaps the greatest threat to the variety of life on our planet. The WWF report proposes an alliance between politicians and businesses for a “Target Zero” of deforestation and forest degradation by 2020, which must become an innovative benchmark for the international community in order to avoid the danger of climate change and to reduce the loss of biodiversity.
Saving forests actually means also protecting the planet from the ravages of climate change. Deforestation is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after coal and oil, says the report. In 2005, the loss and degradation of forests and tropical peat contributed to as much as 16% of total emissions of greenhouse gases.