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Tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year – the same as every car, truck, bus, plane, ship and train on the planet. Safeguarding existing rainforests is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to fight climate change, as every acre safely stores vast quantities of carbon that could otherwise enter the atmosphere as the greenhouse gas CO2. Studies have shown that halting tropical deforestation and allowing for regrowth could mitigate up to 50% of net global carbon emissions in the next 30 years – yet rainforests are still being cut down at a rate of 70,000 acres a day. To date Rainforest Trust reserves have protected over 18 billion trees and stored over 4.1 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents, helping to protect our planet against further climate change.
Over 500 species of land mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians face imminent extinction, with fewer than 1,000 individuals of these species surviving in the wild. Tropical rainforests cover only 8% of the planet’s surface, but support over 50% of the world’s species, many of which are critically endangered. The reserves established by Rainforest Trust in the last 30 years have provided safe havens for 296 endangered and vulnerable mammal species, and 456 endangered and vulnerable bird species.
Rainforests are home to thousands of indigenous communities who rely on the forests for their food, water and economic prosperity. Many of these communities and their forests are under threat from illegal logging, mining, oil and gas extraction and agriculture. Rainforest Trust works with trusted local NGOs to protect these forests by having them designated as Community Reserves or National Parks. The charity has also helped indigenous communities in Latin America obtain legal land titling rights to their ancestral lands, which allows the communities to manage their forest resources more sustainably.
The major threats to these areas are logging, mining, oil and gas extraction and colonisation for agriculture. These activities are closely related to the lack of land property legalisation or usage rights in areas occupied by indigenous groups. By helping obtain land titles for indigenous tribes it gives the rights for legal management of the territories and resources to communities, and also the responsibility for their care in accordance to the law. This allows the protection of vast areas of threatened rainforests.