When a forest begins to degrade, it ends up being unhealthy for living organisms including plants and animals. Degradation occurs when the forest fails to function the way it should. Animal species would no longer survive in such forests and new plants will stop thriving. It will no longer be able to filter the air we breathe. As a result, a degraded forest is one which exists but only in name and not in function.
There are two main reasons why forest degradation occurs:
Unpredictable changes in the weather have led to higher pest infestations and more forest fires in recent years. Climate change also exposes native species to unexpected changes in the weather which they may not be adapted for. As per research, about 6.5 million square miles of forest are at high risk of degradation in the next 10 years.
An even bigger reason for forest degradation is the illegal logging activity which takes place in many forests. Illegal loggers to not make any considerations for sustainability or to safeguard the ecosystem. They make inroads to the forest and cut down the trees without considering the loss of biodiversity in the region. Efforts of planting the area with new seeds may also be negligible among illegal loggers.
Their paths often pave the way for poachers and farmers who may not have had access to the forest land. The clearing may end up being used for cash crops and would eventually be converted into a farm area. This automatically recedes the forest area and diminishes the natural habitat for several animal species.
Steps to prevent and reverse forest degradation
Creating a no-tolerance policy for unsustainable and illegal logging
An important step to reduce forest degradation is to stop illegal logging. While every country has policies related to forest activities, only few have strict rules. Stringent policies will minimize such activities and reduce the stress on forest areas. Loggers must be educated on sustainable forestry. They must be encouraged to practice sustainability. Authorities must also ensure that their activities are carried out in compliance with the law.
Encouraging businesses to source raw materials from sustainable forests
Governments should have policies in place which require companies to invest in raw materials sourced from sustainable forests. This will promote sustainable forestry practices. Governments should make efforts to connect loggers with businesses which look for forest products. Also, they should enforce sustainability among businesses and loggers to safeguard the forests.
Creating awareness among consumers about sustainable forests
We all need to make efforts to make the end-users more aware of sustainability. Certifications which prove sustainable forest practices should be discussed with consumers. This will help them make informed decisions.
These steps are an addition to the several steps taken to minimize the impacts of the climate change crisis.
At Animal Club we have worked closely with several animal species which suffer the impact of habitat loss. Many displaced animal species end up on the endangered species list. Some have even gone extinct or are on the brink of extinction. Our animal workshop and animal parties continually drive awareness among children and adults.
We try to do our bit in saving the planet by helping people understand the animals they handle. Through our animal handling workshop, we have been able to positively impact many people. Conservation is one of the topics that usually comes up during an animal party or an animal school visit. We love to include a bit of education with all the fun children have in the parties.