Photo: Ancient Forest – Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Credit: Roberto Pedrazar Ruiz

A growing number of leading companies are investing in “nature-based solutions” which are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural ecosystems that benefit both biodiversity and human well-being. These actions target major challenges like climate change, disaster risk reduction, food and water security, biodiversity loss and human health, and are critical to sustainable economic development.[1]

To date, print and paper buyers have significantly contributed to forest conservation, biodiversity and climate change mitigation via the Carbon Balanced Paper and Print program and its partnership with the World Land Trust.   The program has funded the long-term protection and management of 71,000 acres of highly biodiverse and threatened habitats in Vietnam, Mexico, Ecuador and Guatemala.  In total, over 380,000 metric tons of CO2 have been sequestered.

While all forestry has a crucial role in capturing and storing carbon, as well as maintaining the world’s delicate ecosystem, tropical forests are especially important for global biodiversity and tackling climate change. Let’s look at the most important benefits of forests.

  1. Sequester Carbon

Forests are one of the world’s largest areas for capturing and storing carbon, absorbing around a quarter of the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by humans. A quarter of a trillion tons of carbon is stored in tropical forests alone[ii], and a tree will continue to store carbon once it has been harvested[iii].

This sequestering of carbon gives forests a vital role in combating climate change, providing 30% of the solution to keeping global warming below two degrees[iv]. But the process of deforestation (permanent forest removal) not only takes this vital tool for carbon conversion away but adds to the problem of climate change thanks to the stored carbon being released into the atmosphere.

Despite covering just 6% of the world’s surface[v], tropical forests are highly significant carbon sinks, storing 46% of the world’s terrestrial carbon[vi]. It’s also estimated that tropical trees perform around 60% of the world’s photosynthesis[vii] and can absorb 25-33% of the planet’s total carbon emissions[viii].

  1. Protecting Biodiversity

As well as 60,000 different tree species, the world’s forests are home to 80% of amphibian species, 75% of bird species, and 68% of mammal species[ix]. But when that habitat is removed, those animals are often unable to survive in the smaller pockets of remaining forest. Along with losing their habitat, animals are more accessible to hunters and poachers, resulting in some species becoming endangered or close to extinction. According to a recent paper by Oregon State University ecologists, 67% of forest primate species are threatened with extinction, with tropical deforestation being a major risk factor[x].

When it comes to biodiversity, tropical forests are home to a staggering proportion of the world’s animal and plant life. It’s estimated that over half of all species reside in tropical forests[xi], so any damage to those forests will have disastrous consequences for those species – many of which are already endangered because of hunting and deforestation.

Any loss in biodiversity has several knock-on effects for the ecosystems of the world, making them less resilient to changing weather patterns and other external pressures. The consequences of this loss of stability include lower carbon sequestration, soil conservation and water regulation – all of which is potentially devastating for local communities as well as the wider world.

  1. Providing Livelihoods for Local People

Forests also have a key role as a highly renewable resource for humans, supporting the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. It is estimated that forests provide more than 86 million green jobs globally.[xii] For millions more, forests make the difference between life and death, providing a rich source of food, water, and fuel.

Forest-based activities such as hunting and fishing provide over 20% of household protein requirements in developing countries[ii], with non-timber products such as fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms important components of the diet in rural areas. In addition, over two billion people rely on traditional forest medicines for their health.[ii]

  1. Protecting Water Supplies

Forests have a pivotal role in the water cycle, absorbing water either as direct rainfall or through their roots before the process of evapotranspiration re-releases this water into the atmosphere. Not only do a third of the world’s largest cities receive a considerable proportion of their drinking water from forests[viii], but the process results in decreased risk of drought and desertification. The root systems of trees are also vital in the stabilization of soil, helping to prevent erosion and landslides, as well as purifying water by trapping sediments and pollutants.

Carbon Balanced Paper and Print has been used by over 5,000 businesses globally.  It provides a practical and effective nature-based solution for print and paper buyers to integrate into their sustainability program and drive positive environmental change.  In addition, program users benefit from the World Land Trust ecolabel and many marketing materials to share with their stakeholders.

For additional information about the Carbon Balanced Paper and Print program:

www.carbonbalancedpaperna.com

Email: info@carbonbalancedpaperna.com

Tel: 506-210-1126

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cbpna/

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[1] International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

[ii] World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

[iii] Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

[iv] Global Forest Watch

[v] Grace, John, Edward Mitchard, and Emanuel Gloor, 2014, Perturbations in the carbon budget of the tropics, Global Change Biology 20.10: 3238-3255

[vi] Soepadmo, Engkik, 1993, Tropical rain forests as carbon sinks, Chemosphere 27.6: 1025-1039

[vii] Malhi, Yadvinder, The productivity, metabolism and carbon cycle of tropical forest vegetation, Journal of Ecology 100.1: 65-75

[viii] Mitchard, Edward TA, 2018, The tropical forest carbon cycle and climate change. Nature 559.7715: 527-534

[ix] Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

[x] Putting a Face on Carbon with Threatened Forest Primates, Oregon State University, 2022

[xi] Borma, Costa, da Rocha et al, Beyond carbon: the contributions of south American tropical humid and subhumid forests to ecosystem services, 2022

[xii] FAO and UNEP, The State of the World’s Forests, 2020

 

 

 

 

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