June 22nd is the 4th annual World Rainforest Day. On this day, the world celebrates all of the benefits that rainforests provide humanity with and raise awareness to help prevent their destruction. It was recognized by the United Nations in 2017 when the situation was discovered to be far worse than previously thought.
Yet, we still lose 40 football fields worth of rainforest every minute in 2020.
The Benefits of Rain Forests
Rainforests only take up 2% of the planet’s surface, but house 50% of the world’s plant and animal species. As a result, they are safe havens for this planet’s biodiversity. However, they don’t just help the wildlife that live in them.
They also help humanity out in so many other ways.
One way that is largely ignored is that 25% of all western medicine comes from rainforests. This is from the unique flora and fauna that can only survive in these ecosystems, and there are sure to be even more discoveries in this field.
The Amazon rainforest is often described as “the lungs of the planet” because it is estimated to provide 20% of the world’s oxygen. However, it doesn’t just produce clean air for us to breathe. It also absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.
Each year, it absorbs 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide or 5% of total emissions.
Rainforests also play a big role when it comes to the water cycle. When plants go through photosynthesis, they release water into the atmosphere, this is known as transpiration. This water helps rainclouds form and prevents droughts in those regions.
Why Is it Disappearing?
Well, disappearing is not actually accurate. In reality, it is being destroyed.
As the world continues to modernize, cities and farmland continue to expand. Unfortunately, governments are allowing the rainforest to be destroyed to make room for these endeavors.
Not only does this create more room for the agricultural sector, but it also provides natural resources like wood in the process. This has lead countries like Brazil to destroy very large parts of the rainforest.
However, it has recently reached a level, when the President of Brazil encouraged farmers and ranchers to clear land with fire. This led to the worst fire the Amazon Rainforest has ever experienced with an estimated 310,000 acres lost as a result.
And with COVID-19 locking down the world, illegal logging activities are on the rise. In fact, deforestation in Brazil is up 50% when compared to 2019. It could very well lead to the worst year for the rainforest yet.
Share World Rainforest Day
The only way to protect rainforests is to have world leaders held accountable. The disregard of rainforest protection and its enforcement in the last few years have been absolutely unacceptable.
Stricter guidelines need to be set up and enforced on an international level. Use this day to help raise awareness of the seriousness of the situation by sharing posts on social media accounts and letting our governments know we care.
Just remember, if not us, then who?