According to FAO, the world's forests continue to shrink as populations increase and forest land is converted to agriculture and other uses. Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.
- 60% of deforestation is caused by the extension of agro-industrial intensive farming (soya, palm oil, corn…);
- 30% is caused by small-scale farmers’ activity to develop their subsistence crops and energy resources (cooking wood).
Forest degradation is held responsible for 18 to 20% of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere. It is one of the main contributors to global warming. If we don’t stop deforestation, rainforests will have completely disappeared by 2040. Therefore, the various stakes of such a cause imply:
- The fight against global warming and carbon storage;
- Ecosystems and biodiversity protection: preserve one of the world’s largest living species reserve, fauna and flora all together;
- Protection of natural resources including freshwater resources;
- Food sovereignty: People’s right to healthy local food, resulting of sustainable production systems;
- Preservation of the cultural identity of the forests’ populations.
The primary causes of loss of arable land are deforestation, overexploitation for fuelwood, overgrazing, intensive agricultural activities and industrialization. All continents are affected by this issue. Areas of serious concern include zones where up to 75% of the topsoil has already been lost.
The evolution of temperatures has taken a dramatic turn, uncomparable with the past: +0.6°C increase in average global temperatures over the last century, on track to reach a 4°C increase by 2100. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main cause of global warming is human enhancement of the natural "greenhouse effect”, i.e. the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere.
Deforestation is the second source of carbon emissions (~20% of global GHG emissions), after the production and consumption of fossil fuels: 69%. Yet each year, 13,000 hectares are deforested worldwide, an area equivalent to Greece. Agricultural expansion is responsible for 90% of worldwide deforestation.
Forests have four major roles in climate change: they currently contribute about one-sixth of global carbon emissions when cleared, overused or degraded; they react sensitively to a changing climate; when managed sustainably, they produce woodfuels as a benign alternative to fossil fuels; and finally, they have the potential to absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them - in principle in perpetuity. - FAO
Deployment of forestry projects such as agroforestry, biodiversity preservation or development of alternative economic activities in partnership with disadvantaged communities (small farmers, natives, village associations) are a holistic remedy to these problems. They include every issue of sustainable development enabling:
There are agro-ecological technics as agroforestry that allow to harmoniously combine the protection of forests and farming development. Participating to reforestation promoting agroforestry in concert with small-scale farmers around the world constitutes a major stake and the social and environmental benefits to the Planet and Human kind are enormous.
"If we do not end deforestation, it will cancel 80% of our efforts to reduce global warming." -Joseph Stiglitz
"To compensate for the number of lost trees during the past decade, 130 million hectares or 1.3 million square kilometers should be planted, an area equivalent to Peru." -UNEP
"14 billion trees should be planted for 10 consecutive years to cover an area of 130 million hectares. This means that every person on earth should plant two trees each year for ten years." -UNEP