“Only after the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught, then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”
(Alanis Obomsawin, native-canadian Filmmaker)
Rainforests, the most diverse biospheres on earth, are not only of crucial importance to indigenous people, unique animals and the ecological balance of the planet. Underneath the treetops lie natures most precious treasure chambers – ancient trees, oil, gold and other resources awaken mans desires. How far the exploitation of the rainforests has already gone, who is behind it and what economic alternatives might look like you learn in this blog-article of EMERALD BERLIN.
Those who care about the rainforest and do some research about it basically go through three stages. Stage one: amazement. How gigantic these forests around the equator really are, how rich their biological diversity of plants and wildlife actually is, it just boggles the mind. No wonder researchers call the ancient amazon rain forests “green ocean”. And who has not yet dreamed of seeing those last paradises on earth with our own eyes?
Underneath the vast canopy we find it: untouched nature which most of us know only from documentaries. And you know what’s really incredible? Time and time again teams of explorers discover unknown and completely isolated tribes of indigenous people that have never had contact to civilization. It might be hard to imagine but they actually don’t have wlan and no clue who Donald Trump or Justin Bieber are. Can you believe it?
"More than half of all known living species on earth are at home in the worlds rainforests – and there are still millions to discover."
In total there are 40 countries around the world which lie fully or at least partially within rainforest territory. Tropic rainforests stretch on both sides of the equator through four continents: Asia, Australia, South- and Central America as well as Africa. Added up these rainforests have a surface of more than 13 Million square kilometres. More than half of it – about 8 million square kilometres – are found in the amazon region in South America.
Zoologists and Botanists estimate that more than half of all living species on earth are at home in these huge tropical biospheres – and that there are still millions of yet unknown animals and plants to discover in the dense underwood’s. On one hectare of rainforest live approximately 20.000 different species of insects. A wet dream not only for natural scientists but also for medical professionals since there are still countless discoveries to make, well, if we’re lucky (and quick enough)…
Trees Vs. Bulldozers
This is where we usher into phase two: disbelieve. After we got a glimpse of natures boundless beauty in phase one we now have no choice but to look at its destruction too. And it’s not pretty. The United Nations have calculated that “in the whole amazon region between 1990 and 2010 a total of 600.000 square kilometres of tropical rainforest have been destroyed”. For comparison: that’s almost two times the size of Germany which covers a space of 357.000 square kilometres.
"If deforestation goes on with the same speed in the future there will not be a single tree left in about 200 years."
Every year around 60.000 square kilometres of rainforest are deliberately cut down. To “succeed” in this crusade against nature one needs to log and lumber 35 football fields every two minutes. If deforestation goes on with the same speed in the future there will not be a single tree left in about 200 years. This shows already how crucial it is for us to act now. For already demolished parts of the rainforest to fully recover it takes hundred years at least. And if we are really unlucky we have to add to the equation huge fires like those in the amazon and in Australia last year.
Rainforests in shopping carts
Luckily in the past years there were developments that spark hope. The re-forestation of certain areas has been successful, safety measures and initiatives start to show effects, more and more parts of ancient woods are becoming protected under the law, awareness is growing and the much needed publicity for environmental projects and NGO’s has never been greater. Good news!
And this is precisely what brings us to phase three: action! Rethinking rainforest protection and finding applicable alternatives to its destruction is what is needed now. And it’s not just a question of man vs. nature – it is much more complicated than that. There is a variety of different social groups and organisations which pursue very differing goals.
“75 percent of global deforestation are due to transformation of tropical forests into agricultural areas” (Dr. Elke Mannigel, OroVerde)
Example: In Brasil the newly-elected government wants to heavily expand it’s agricultural industry. To make room for gigantic mono-cultures and cow-meadows the rainforests get hit with chainsaws and bulldozers. Lobbygroups and farmers cheer, environmental organisations in brasil and around the world protest while numerous indigenous tribes literally fear for their existence – and often can’t do anything about it.
“75 percent of global deforestation are due to transformation of tropical forests into agricultural areas” knows Dr. Elke Mannigel, Spokesperson of the German environmental organisation OroVerde. Around 30 percent of all products that destroy rainforests – like palmoil, cocoa, tropical wood, but also soy for meat production – end up on the European market and possibly in our very own shopping carts. But do the protection of tropical rainforests and economic growth really have to be mutually exclusive? Can’t there be a win-win-situation for everyone involved?
Sustainability at last
A very special project which promises economic prosperity for local communities and combines it with safeguarding the biosphere for future millennia EMERALD BERLIN would like to present to you here. The German rainforest foundation OroVerde together with the NGO Fauna & Flora International came up with a bold idea on how the people of the Raja Ampat Archipelago in Indonesia could secure their prosperity without exploiting the magical nature in front of their doorstep.
Both islands – Waigeo and Misool – on the archipelago are known as “islands of the paradise birds” and provide a unique variety of super rare plants and animals as well as a coral reef. And wouldn’t it be simply fantastic if those last paradises could be saved? Do we not want to see those crazy paradise birds with their colourful feathers doing their funny mating dances in the future?
"Wouldn’t it be simply fantastic if those last paradises on earth could be saved?"
But how can this be assured? How can economy and wildlife protection be reconciled? Only through real economic alternatives that pay off and make exploitation counterproductive. OroVerde does the trick by helping local workers develop and market their own products (like agricultural products, coconut-oil, bast-bags and mats) and by systematically establishing programs for wildlife and forestprotection. OroVerde is helping out by sharing know-how through counceling and work-shops while the locals themselves are taking action.
A special element of the project: sustainable eco-tourism. Instead of destroying the rainforest it is going to become an attraction and used for responsible, community-based tourism. This way rainforest-lovers like us can even years from now explore these endless and stunning forests with local tour-guides – and thereby actively support their protection! OroVerde gives many practical examples for this: “Former bird-hunters are now given the opportunity to become bird-tourguides. By this they are themselves interested in protecting the natural habitat of these animals.”
Special attention lies in these project-regions on the support of local initiatives and the direct cooperation with the local community. The indigenous citizens are not only included in planning processes but they are calling the shots and make the decisions. This is what real sustainability looks like!
"Everyone can become a messenger and help save the paradise islands and its unique wildlife."
By empowering them and amplifying their voice they can effectively counter the planned building of roads right through rainforest-areas, illegal lumbering of wood or the hunting of endangered animals. With this inclusive model OroVerde is a frontrunner claiming a pioneer-role. What already works here in Indonesia soon could become a model for saving rainforests worldwide.
EMERALD BERLIN is proud and happy to announce our cooperation with OroVerde and we can’t wait to make their project known to the world. And as always: You are essential to it all. Become a messenger and help save the paradise islands and its unique wildlife. Our brand new EMERALD BERLIN x ORO VERDE-Collection you find in our shop. Further information on the project and all the background info you find on our website and or visit https://www.regenwald-schuetzen.org/.
Thank you so much for your support!