Tropical Forests and Climate Change

The earth is not ours, it is a treasure we hold in trust for the future generations

African proverb

Tropical forests play an important role in helping to counteract climate change. They absorb approximately a fifth of the world’s man-made CO2 emissions every year (IPCC 2014).

We hear a lot about the need to reduce fossil fuel use to combat climate change but 20-25% of man made carbon emissions are from deforestation and degradation (IPCC 2014). We must find ways to live with less fossil fuels, but reducing deforestation, especially in the tropics, is also vital. It is not a case of either/or – we must do both.

Tropical rainforests are especially important ecosystems, and not just for those living there – they play a vital role for everyone on the planet. A square metre of rainforest can support up to 80kg of living biomass, and can produce up to 3.5kg of biomass every year. A single hectare of rainforest may contain 200 species of tree, some over 60m tall, and over 40,000 species of insect. They play a crucial role in storing water; regulating rainfall; and preventing floods, droughts and erosion. In addition they produce much of the world’s oxygen which all animals breathe.