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The Rainforest and the Climate Crisis

We decided to associate ourselves with the Race for Rainforest fundraising organized by Cool Earth, an NGO working to protect the three biggest rainforests in the world. But why are rainforests so important? What is their role in the climate crisis and climate regulation? That's what we are going to explore in this article.

The cooling effect of rainforest

First of all, the rainforests are cooling the Earth. And that is a great power, considering the global warming problem we are currently facing.

The trees have the capacity to catch carbon and store it for centuries through the process of sequestration. During sequestration, the carbon is captured, and oxygen is released as the trees absorb the sun's rays to grow. That stored carbon stays in the trees until they die or burn. It is also stored in the soil, traveling through the roots.

The rainforest has some of the most impressive trees in the world and receives almost constant sunlight throughout the year. Those immense trees have a massive potential for storing carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. This storage can significantly impact the evolution of the climate crisis. In a report published in February 2021, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) stated that a "healthy tropical rainforest is capable of contributing over one-third of the total carbon capture needed by 2030." In other words, keeping the rainforest healthy can greatly impact the capacity to reach the international carbon emission targets.

What happens to the rainforests

The world's forests are destroyed to provide for the human needs in agriculture, housing, and wood products. It has been going for a long time, and it is still happening despite the scientific community's repeated warnings.

South America's famous Amazon forest has lost around 17% of its superficies since 1978. Scientists' estimations state that it could lose between 20% and 25% in the next decade. If that happens, experts say that the largest rainforest on Earth is at great risk of becoming not much more than a dry grassland.

With the climate changes, the forests are also becoming dryer. That causes premature death of the trees and augmentation of forest fires. As we have seen, the carbon stocked in the trees is released when they die. That provokes a deadly loop, where deforestation creates climate changes, and climate change brings deforestation.

The impacts of rainforest loss

The loss of rainforests is having an impact on all the life on Earth. With fewer rainforests, the climate is affected, becoming warmer and warmer each year.

It impacts human life through the air we breathe since the trees release the oxygen we need to survive. It also impacts our alimentation and medicine, as a lot of it comes from the forests affected by climate change. And it massively impacts the life of the billions of people living in the rainforest areas.

But the deforestation of the rainforests doesn't solely affect humans; it affects the whole biodiversity of the Earth. Everything is interconnected and interdependent. The loss of the forest brings loss of animals and plants, which can be without impact on our life at some point.

What can we do to protect rainforests?

From our homes far from rainforest areas, there isn't much we can do to impact their protection and conservation directly. The best way to help at the moment is probably to donate or participate in actions from NGOs that concentrate their efforts there.

We should focus on conserving the adult trees that are already in the rainforest. They are the ones who have the best potential in capturing carbon. To protect them adequately, we need to understand them well. That is why it is essential to do forest surveillance actions. Those actions are done through collaboration between traditional and scientific knowledge.

The protection also goes with developing sustainable living methods for the people in the targeted areas. For that, we need to work hand in hand with those populations and let them make decisions to protect their environment.

There are different adaptations possible to help people live in harmony with nature. Forest fire prevention, new crop cultivation, and sustainable solar farming are all solutions that can have a positive impact on cultivating the resilience of the rainforest populations.

Cool Earth is one NGO working actively for rainforest protection in the Amazon, the Congo, and the New Guinea rainforests. You can check out their website for more information on their work.

We decided to participate in their Race for Rainforest fundraising in September. Their goal is to get people moving to cover the 6 400 km of the Amazon River and raise funds for the cause.

For that, we engage ourselves in completing a distance of 100 km by walking in the Himalayan range, principally during our trek to Nanda Devi East Base Camp from September 16th to 26th. We will also be raising an amount of £200 (around 20 000 INR) for the projects of Cool Earth. So if you want to help us reach our goal of protecting the rainforest, you can visit our website, where you can donate to the cause or participate in the trek.

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