Labour’s spokesperson for environment, transport and sustainability, Councillor Gary Wilkinson, on World Rainforest Day:

June 22nd is World Rainforest Day. Created in 2017 to raise awareness of the importance of rainforests around the world, it is a day when people around the globe celebrate and honour these valuable ecosystems and their guardians.

Rainforests are decreasing at an alarming rate. It is time to pay attention to this vital asset, and reverse the trend of shrinking rain forest areas.

Covering only 2% of the planet’s surface, rainforests are essential to our survival. 20% of the oxygen we breath, comes from rain forests. They are responsible for more than 25% of all Western medicine, act as carbon and pollution filters for our planet’s air, and house more than 50% of the world’s plant and animal species. The diversity, and potential of these areas, is nothing short of  astonishing.

Yet every minute, we lose 40 football fields of rainforests, which threatens our biodiversity and imperils our planets health. Deforestation causes 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions that accelerate climate change – more than from all cars in the U.S and China combined. Natural climate solutions like protecting and restoring forests, however, could reverse global emissions by a third.

Rainforests are our best friend when it comes to mitigating climate change.

Countering climate change requires two things: halting the emissions that fuel the greenhouse effect and finding ways to get carbon out of our atmosphere. We now know how to stop emissions and use renewable energy sources, and forests are there to help us do the rest. Trees are the most efficient carbon-absorbing machines we know! And rainforests are full of them!

In this interconnected world, it is no secret that our actions play a major part in what happens to ecosystems and communities alike.

The rapid spread of coronavirus has shown, even small changes in nature can have a huge impact, particularly once we hit a tipping point.

The same is true for the destruction of our rainforests. The problem is that the changes happening here are far from small – they’re likely to alter the climate, irreparably, forever.

Together, let’s raise our voices to make sure these precious ecosystems receive the protection they deserve and their guardians remain supported and empowered.

Learn more about how you can protect the rainforests and celebrate the impact that preserves them and our world at www.worldrainforestday.org.

Photo by Boudhayan Bardhan via Unsplash

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