Protecting the world’s flora and fauna has never been more important than it is today. The widespread removal of forests, along with climate change, mean that a greater number of animal species are at risk from extinction. Therefore, being sustainable is becoming increasingly important, and can involve people making ethical consumption choices, as well as communities coming together to work on a solution. The actions of non-governmental-organisations can also have a large positive impact.
Even something as minor as the consumer choices one makes can protect sustainability and nature, and thus directly reduce the impact on forests and animals. Deforestation is a huge contributor towards reducing biodiversity, as the removal of forests reduces the number of both flora and fauna species living in them, and also creates a ‘monoculture’ of one single crop occupying a vast area of land, and thereby being able to support very low biodiversity. Choosing to use only timber from forests certified by The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) helps to reduce damage to forests. This is because the FSC respects and maintains the biodiversity of the area, by not depleting forests on a large scale, and ensuring that tree stocks are replenished.
Buying food produced via more sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming methods also promotes ‘going green’. Monoculture Agricultural crops significantly reduce habitats for flora and fauna. Cereal crops and grasslands require vast areas of land, many of which were previously covered by rich and expansive forests, and can only harbour a limited number of animal species. Since up to 40% of the world’s grain is used to feed livestock, reducing meat consumption or raising livestock in more environmentally beneficial ways such as through the use of silvopasture are other ways of promoting sustainability and nature, as this means less land is required for crops, in turn enhancing the biodiversity of an area.
The use of pesticides is an additional problem as chemicals kill mainly bug species, which are an essential part of food chains. A solution to this is the growing (and consumption) of organic foods, which use natural fertilisers.
Palm oil harvesting requires the clearing of vast areas of rainforest, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, this currently threatens 193 of the world’s critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable animal species, thereby severely compromising the sustainability and nature of the forests.
However, boycotting palm oil is not the best solution – it is found in a huge variety of products, and it financially benefits millions of people in low-income countries. Therefore, alternatives to palm oil production must be used in order to maintain sustainability, including using different trees which produce similar products. For example, on the island of Borneo, 12 communities came together, and using help from donations and a non-governmental organisation, began to plant a variety of productive tree species. These include Sugar Palm and Tengkawang, both of which are native to the island of Borneo and can therefore grow in mixed forests among other tree species, and do not require pesticides to thrive. This approach ensures that local communities can remain financially solvent by growing products which have far fewer impacts on local sustainability and nature than palm oil.
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