Protecting tropical forests is critical to tackling climate change

When we think about climate change, we typically think of the usual suspects – fossils fuels such as oil and coal. However, deforestation plays a huge role in fueling climate change. Thus, protecting forests can mitigate its harmful effects and prevent further damage. In fact, a ground-breaking new study indicates that tropical forest conservation could account for as much as 50% of the solution to climate change. Find out four reasons why below:

Climate change and Mexico ecosystems – deforestation

1. Deforestation accounts for 15% of carbon emissions each year – that’s equivalent to the entire transportation industry.

By preserving forests, we are preventing the release of millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This is known as “carbon sequestration,” and it’s a critical and irreplaceable service that forests provide to our planet.

2. In addition to preventing the release of carbon, protecting forests also preserves the rich biodiversity they house.

In the face of mass extinctions, preserving endangered species is more urgent than ever before. By protecting the forests in which they live, we are safeguarding a wide range of species from frogs to hummingbirds and jaguars, as well as many medicinal plants.

Climate change affecting nature – endangered species
Latin America and climate change – watershed ecosystems

3. Forests have a cooling effect on the planet that is vital to mitigating climate change and providing fresh water.

Forests affect rainfall and weather patterns, influencing both droughts and flooding, and in turn agricultural productivity. The Amazon rainforest, one of our top conservation priorities, influences rainfall as far away as the U.S. Forests also capture and store water, making them critical to a clean and abundant water supply. Our work in the Andes mountains is preserving watershed ecosystems that supply water to the region.

4. Forests make local and indigenous communities more resilient to climate change by providing sustainable livelihoods.

We work with forest-dependent communities to enhance their resilience to climate change. By protecting the forests where they live, the benefits of conservation are felt locally as well as globally. We work with them to develop sustainable industries that leave their forests intact, including organic cacao and the Amazonian superfruit known as buriti.

Climate change and its effects on ecosystems – sustainable industries