“The diversity of animal and plant life within tropical rain forests, where every second tree may be a different species, is awe-inspiring compared to the temperate forests of Europe, where every second tree is likely to be an oak or pine.”
- Robert J. Morley in Origin and Evolution of Tropical Rain Forests
Rainforests can take between 60 million and 100 million years to evolve. They support countless wildlife and medicinal plants. It is currently estimated that rainforests contain more herbal remedies than all the pharmaceutical drugs ever created in a single square mile of forest. Indigenous groups have only begun to share their pharmacological and botanical knowledge with mainstream science. Sadly, we are killing our rainforests at an unprecedented rate, and the ramifications of such blatant deforestation can only be estimated, but they are truly deep-seated, and we must take action immediately if we are to save them.
“Today the once-dense mysterious rainforest realms are under assault as the indiscriminate colonial frontier of resource extraction moves across the region; as the forest disappears, the traditional human legacy of sustainable utilization of this rich ecosystem is also being buried under modern realities.” (Rainforest Medicine)
Not all rainforests are destroyed by timber companies. Surprisingly, much forestland is decimated due to commercial agriculture and subsistence farming, including cattle ranching. Here are many ways that you, personally, can stop the destruction of our forests, a true medicinal wonder and environmental jewel which needs to be protected:
1. Eat less meat. Eating beef (and other meat) grazed on farmlands is one of the biggest ways that forests are encroached upon. Meat production takes up to 70% of the world’s agricultural lands.
2. Refuse Brazilian cattle. 60-70% of deforestation in Brazil happens due to cattle ranching, and it’s getting worse. Listen to Brazilian music. Get a Brazilian bikini wax, or learn to Samba, but don’t purchase one of their biggest exports, and you will be saving the rainforests.
3. Purchase sustainable furniture and other woods. Mahogany, Rosewood and Ebony are threatened rainforest species.
4. Reduce your petroleum dependency. Almost 70% of the entire Peruvian Amazon – more than 97 million acres - is leased by oil companies. 18 different multinational oil companies now plan to extract oil from the Peruvian rainforests. Purchase a hybrid or electric car. Ride your bike on the weekends. Carpool. Our oil addiction is killing the rainforests.
5. Don’t use pesticides or herbicides on your own garden. The use of these chemicals on your own lawn and garden contributes to the coffers of companies who have no sense of responsibility to the planet, or you. Monsanto and Cargill want to control even our forests with GMO plants. Don’t let them do it. Pull weeds or use organic pesticides and companion planting. It will be worth it in the long run.
6. Refuse to plant biotech trees. Genetically altered trees are usually sterile. They have to be planted and replanted season after season and don’t contribute to the vast bio-diversity needed to continue life in rainforest. Just like suicide seedscreated by Monsanto, meant to withstand Round Up chemicals, they are causing all kinds of health hazards. We can only guess what GMO trees will do to their environment, long term.
7. Purchase only organic foods. For the same reason that herbicides poison your own food, it poisons the planet. Crops that grow especially well in rain-forests like cacao trees or papaya, for example, are grown now with herbicides and pesticides, but these destroy the fragile ecosystem of the rainforest. Further, GMO crops such as soy have encroached on forestland, destroying more than 40 million acres of rainforest in just the past few years. Soy crops, one of the biggest GMO crops, ironically are in demand as animal feed. (See item 1).
8. Make rainforest protection more profitable than rainforest destruction. By choosing ways tohonor the vegetation and plants that grow in this specialized environment, even making use of medicinal herbs and other by-products of a healthy rainforest eco-system we can save rainforests. For example, the bark of the Brazilian catuaba tree has a long history of use for calming the nerves. Chankra piedra herbs from the rainforest have a 96% success rate at breaking up kidney stones, and there are millions more that medical science is just starting to understand.
9. Stop Buying Products Containing Palm Oil. Palmate, palm oil kernel, palmitate, and palmitic acid are also forms of palm oil. Conversely to utilizing rainforest byproducts, purchasing items containing palm oil, which are in almost every conceivable ‘convenience food’ in America, depletes rainforest health. Up to 50% of the products we use very day contain palm oil – many times without our even knowing it. Palm oils require a rainforest climate to grow, and many forests are cleared to plant palm oil fields. The equivalent of 300 soccer fields is being planted every day to keep up with palm oil demand. You can write companies like Unilever, Nestlé, and General Mills to tell that that you won’t buy any product that contains palm oil. Boycott those companies until they make changes that honor the rainforests. Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland are the biggest distributors of palm oil. Tell them you are not in support of a palm oil habit.
10. Assign monetary support to a rainforest charity at fundraisers who are conscientious about saving this precious resource. Most contributions are tax-deductible and can save the planet’s resources for decades to come.
11. Plant more trees. By planting trees andassigning them to rainforest rescue sites at charities that protect endangered lands and rescue those which have already been damaged you become part of the solution instead of the problem. For donations as small as $10 an entire 2500 acres of rainforest can be saved. It takes very little action to make a big impact.