Please help save
The Amazon rainforests and the
cloudforests of the Andes together account for more than 40% of all
butterfly species on Earth. If deforestation continues at it's
present rate, the rainforests will have entirely disappeared within
50 years, and almost half of the world's butterfly species could by
then be extinct, with nothing more than museum specimens and
mongabay websites where you
can find masses of information, and take part in
on-line petitions to save the Amazon
and the rainforests of Africa and Asia.
Please support rainforest conservation :
reduce your mileage
boycott tropical hardwoods
boycott South American beef
boycott oil palm products
support rainforest conservation organisations
Reduce consumerism !
Increased wealth breeds increased consumption and
increased disregard for the consequences of our actions. Every product
we buy creates a massive impact on the environment. Rainforests are
clear-felled to make way for the mining of iron, copper, aluminium and
gold. Every plastic item we buy uses mineral or vegetable oil as it's
source, resulting in massive degradation or destruction of rainforests
for the oil industry. Timber consumption by the building, furniture
and pulping industries severely degrades yet more forested habitats.
Do we really need the latest gadgets, when we
managed to get by perfectly well in the past without them ? Do we
really need to upgrade our mobile phones, televisions, computers,
hi-fi, cameras and everything else quite so often ? Much of the time
all we are doing is trying to be fashionable, or to impress our
friends with our purchases, when we could put our hard-earned money to
much better use, with significantly less damage to the environment.
Do we really need to get a new car, motorcycle,
refrigerator, washing machine etc, or could we get by with the
existing one for a year or two longer ? We can save a great deal of
money by making things last longer, and repairing rather than
Every time we replace an item, we also have to
dispose of the old model, creating mountains of waste, and polluting
the soil, rivers and sea with chemicals. Every time we buy an item we
demand fancy packaging, which places yet more demands on the dwindling
rainforests. Recycling helps to an extent, but is not the real answer
- only a small percentage of materials are recyclable, and the
recycling industry itself places yet more demands on the environment.
Reduce your mileage !
Every time you put fuel in
your car you are contributing to rainforest destruction, because all
fuel now contains over 5% bio-fuel. Bio-fuels are grown primarily on
former rainforest that has been deliberately burned down to make way
for soybean and oil palm plantations.
Boycott tropical hardwoods !
The furniture industry has a huge impact on the quality of the
remaining areas of rainforest. When timber is extracted, it is
inevitably the oldest and largest trees that are selected. Removing
these trees totally alters the structure of the forest. It is not
always realised that a rainforest is in effect a vast collection of
sub-habitats including the understorey, mid-canopy, upper canopy,
forest edge, and "light-gaps" where trees have died and fallen. It is
precisely this huge array of ecological niches which allows such a
diverse and abundant variety of butterflies and other wildlife to
Removal of the older trees also virtually eliminates the dead wood
that is so necessary for beetles - a major food source for birds,
small mammals and reptiles. The heavy machinery used to extract timber
crushes most of the younger trees. The result is an even-aged thicket
where the diversity of birds, mammals and insects is less than 10% of
that found in mature rainforest in the same vicinity.
Please don't buy furniture made from tropical hardwoods. Oak and pine
extraction from temperate woodland also impacts on the environment,
but most nowadays comes from sustainable sources - woodlands that are
replanted to maintain a continuation of habitat and timber. There is
no such thing as a sustainable rainforest - it takes 1000s of years to
reach a condition where it can support a high bio-diversity.
American beef !
In Brazil, Ecuador,
Venezuela, Argentina, Costa Rica and many other areas of the
neotropics, vast swathes of primary rainforest are clear-felled every
year to create pastures for cattle grazing. The thin soils, poor in
nutrients, are only capable of sustaining low quality grasses for
about 5 years, after which the land becomes virtually useless for
cattle ranching. Within a few years desertification begins, and all
that remains is dust.
Cattle in the neotropics
suffer badly from infestations of ticks and other parasites, so the
grassland is deliberately burnt at the end of each dry season to
destroy the parasites, and to release nitrates into the soil to
stimulate the growth of fresh grasses. These annual burns regularly
become totally out of control, destroying yet more of the little
rainforest that is left, and drastically lowering the humidity of the
entire region, with devastating effects on the remaining forests and
Buying South American
beef, much of which is exported as low quality meat used in
hamburgers, sausages, pâté and dog food, creates even more demand,
which can only be met by further destruction of the forests. Beef and
other meat products from the UK, Europe, North America and New Zealand
are more environmentally friendly because a much higher density of
livestock can be supported by a given area of land, due to the deeper
and more nutrient-rich soils.
Boycott oil palm products !
Massive areas of rainforest in Borneo, Sumatra, West Malaysia,
Thailand and Indonesia are being clear-felled and burned to make way
for immense oil palm plantations, causing the annihilation of wildlife
on a catastrophic scale. Only a few small areas protected as nature
reserves or national parks now remain, and even these are now severely
threatened by commercial interests and governmental policies which
seek to downgrade their protected status of such areas and open them
up for exploitation. Already 90 percent of the natural forest has
gone, with massive reductions in butterfly populations.
Palm oil has become a much sought after commodity - as well as being
used in food products, it is finding growing use as a so-called
environmentally friendly bio-fuel, but it's large scale deployment
will cause the extinction of the orang utan, one of the most
well-loved species on the planet, and the loss of thousands of species
of butterflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
We need to ask ourselves
whether we need to consume such vast quantities of palm oil. Much of
it goes to create plastic packaging. We can reduce the impact by
demanding simpler environmentally friendly packaging from supermarket
chains. Card packaging is far less destructive, because it is
biodegradable, and can be produced from sustainable temperate
employment for indigenous people !
One of the major problems facing the environment is poverty. In
countries where governments are corrupt and distribution of wealth is
unjust, the poorer people cannot be blamed for funding their family
needs by resorting to environmentally damaging practices. Governments
and industry need to generate forms of employment that minimise impact
on the environment. They must also provide funding to educate the next
generation - many children never get the chance to venture beyond the
towns and cities, and never get the chance to appreciate the wildlife
in their own countries. Wealthy countries need to provide the funding
and education that enable indigenous people, particularly the children
on who the future depends, to learn about and gain access to the
forests, because without their support forests and other wildlife
habitats will disappear entirely.
Support Eco-tourism !
Less developed countries often lack the financial, educational and
technical resources necessary to create an effective National Park and
conservation infra-structure. Private nature reserves, in the form of
commercial eco-tourism venues, are therefore essential if habitats are
to be protected from other forms of development.
Eco-lodges and their surrounding private nature reserves create a high
demand from tourists for the retention of the forests. Many of the
most important forest areas in Brazil, Ecuador,
Peru, Guyana, Argentina, Kenya, Uganda, Gabon,
Madagascar, India, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Indonesia,
Papua New Guinea and Australia are protected almost solely by virtue
of the demands of eco-tourism.
Reduce carbon emissions !
The climate of the Earth has changed many times over the millennia,
and will change many more times. These changes are known to be
triggered by natural events such as meteorite strikes, major volcanic
eruptions, solar activity, continental shift, and by changes in the
In the late 20th century we discovered that human activity could also
trigger climate change. It was feared that nuclear war or the burning
of oilfields might trigger a new ice age. Then came the fear of global
warming caused by the release of ozone-destroying chemicals from
aerosols. Fortunately these fears have proven largely to be unfounded
or unrealised but this has led to public apathy and serious distrust
of scientific predictions.
Current evidence e.g. receding ice-caps and raised average global
temperatures however leaves absolutely no doubt that our climate is
changing, and that extremely high levels of carbon emissions are the
major factor triggering the build-up of the greenhouse gases which are
thought to be the primary cause of global warming.
We all need to make immediate and major changes to our daily lives if
we are to avert disaster. We need to use less fuel, which means less
driving, fewer flights, more efficient home insulation, and more
efficient manufacturing processes.
Energy policies must be changed. Fossil fuels must be abandoned,
nuclear reactors decommissioned and alternative energy sources such as
wind generators, tidal power and solar energy must receive massive
research funding, with the aim of eliminating the usage of fossil
Support Rainforest Conservation organisations !
Supporting rainforest conservation is not just a simple case of making
an occasional conscience-relieving donation to Friends of the Earth or
Rainforest Concern. Any such donations are of course valuable because
they can fund vital research projects. What is more important, is that
be adding our names to the membership lists of such organisations we
raise their profile, enabling them to attract further funding.
Funding is absolutely vital. Scientific surveys, including the
production of wildlife inventories, can demonstrate that a site has
high bio-diversity, or that it is home to particularly rare or
threatened species. Such data can be used to raise the protected
status of a site from a weakly protected local nature reserve to a
highly protected national reserve. Scientists conducting such studies
have to be paid - they don't work for nothing !
Lobby Politicians !
None of us trust politicians. We are all sceptical about their
promises and have little faith in their commitment to the environment.
Some of it is our own fault however because politicians know that high
profile subjects like health, pensions, immigration and employment are
the real vote winners. We need to change that. We need to bombard our
politicians with letters and e-mails telling them that issues of
climate change, wildlife protection and rainforest conservation are
important to us, and to demand that they improve governmental policies
to meet our demands if they expect to get our votes !
on-line Petitions !
Petitions can have a major influence on government policies.
By way of example the petition raised by
to save Cristalino State Park in Brazil brought a massive
response. This vast rainforest reserve, one of the most bio-diverse
habitats on Earth, was going to be downgraded in status and opened up
for development. The petition directed at the Brazilian Prime
Minister, brought about a reversal of policy. Thanks to the petition
the forest was saved from destruction, ensuring the survival of the
1600 species of butterfly that breed there, not to mention the 600
birds, the tapirs, giant river otters, anacondas, capybaras and
myriads of other wildlife.
To find out more about the
threats to rainforests and the environment, and to access on-line
petitions, visit the
river, Taman Negara, Malaysia ©