Luciano-Queiroz via Shutterstock

Our Campaigns

Protecting Forests

Goal: Save wildlife and stabilize the climate by protecting forests from deforestation.

To protect species and biodiversity, we must protect the world’s forests. Doing so will help stabilize our climate. We’re doing our part by engaging the American public and urging U.S. companies to choose sustainability. For instance, we’re urging Cargill and other U.S. agricultural companies operating in the tropics to adopt zero-deforestation plans, and we’re urging U.S. tissue companies to include recycled paper products in their paper towels, toilet paper and tissues. We’re also engaging the public to oppose administrative proposals to weaken protections for the wildest, roadless parts of the Tongass and other national forests.

  • <h4>ENDANGERING WILDLIFE</h4><h5>Tropical forest destruction drives out the orangutans, elephants, jaguars and other threatened or endangered animals that live in them.</h5><em>Chem7 via Flickr / CC-BY-2.0, frontpage via Shutterstock</em>
  • <h4>FORESTS AND GLOBAL WARMING</h4><h5>The Canadian boreal forest, covering more than 1 billion acres, removes enough carbon dioxide each year to offset the emissions of 24 million cars.</h5><em>Matt Zimmerman via Flickr / CC-by-2.0, NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland Mission</em>
  • <h4>U.S. COMPANIES CAN LEAD</h4><h5>U.S. agricultural companies such as Cargill should commit to zero deforestation in tropical forests. Tissue brands such as Bounty and Charmin should include post-consumer recycled paper in their products, or choose alternative fibers such as wheat straw.</h5><em>Rich Carey via Shutterstock</em>
  • <h4>THINGS ARE CHANGING</h4><h5>In the last 5 years, 74 percent of the palm oil industry has committed to a zero deforestation policy.</h5><em>pixabay</em>
The last animals of their kind

Every hour, we’re losing the equivalent of a thousand football fields of forests. We're also losing the animals that depend on these forests for their survival—including the fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left on the planet as well as the critically endangered jaguar, orangutan and Bornean elephant.

Tropical forests and the wildlife they support are being burned to the ground or otherwise destroyed so that some of the world’s largest agricultural commodities companies can trade and sell soybeans, beef cattle and palm oil, much of it for U.S. consumption. That’s a terrible and tragic trade-off. 

Head north and it’s the same story. Lynx, caribou and billions of migratory birds thrive in the cool green shade of the Canadian boreal forest. But one million acres of trees are chopped down every year, much of it for tissue products used in the U.S. That’s a bad deal for the wildlife living there, and also for our climate. 

Here in the U.S., the good news is that the wildest, most untamed lands within our national forest system are protected by a 2001 policy called the “roadless rule,” which holds that those areas within our national forests that have remained free of logging and road-building should stay that way. But now the state of Alaska has petitioned the Trump administration to exempt the Tongass forest in Alaska, America’s largest national forest, from the roadless rule. 

Forests are vital to protecting biodiversity, but they also play a critical role in stabilizing our climate.

They work like the planet’s lungs, breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen, reducing global warming and cleaning the air.

Cutting down these forests has the opposite effect. The leveled forest stops taking in carbon dioxide. And when forests are burned, as often happens in tropical areas to “clear” the land, they release back into the atmosphere the carbon they've taken in over many years.

If we want to save endangered species and slow global warming, we must stop burning and cutting down forests.

Due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, Bornean elephants are nearly extinct in the wild.
Bernard DUPONT via Flickr / CC-BY-SA-2.0
Commitment to zero deforestation

Companies can play an important role by choosing sustainability. 

Consider the progress in the tropical forests: 

In the past, many companies considered deforestation to be the quickest, cheapest path to profit in the palm oil, soybean, beef and other agricultural commodity industries.  

But this mindset is starting to change.

In 2012, only 5 percent of palm oil refineries had committed to zero deforestation. By 2017, after five years of action and advocacy by environmental groups, the number grew to 74 percent. The results: More of the world’s vanishing wild animals stand a fighting chance of survival, and, instead of burned and cut-down forests releasing at least 1.5 gigatons of carbon into the planet's atmosphere, that carbon has stayed in the ground. 

With similar commitments from tissue companies to protect the Boreal, and with a decision to keep existing protections for U.S. national forests, we can protect wildlife and stabilize our climate.

Drag the image to view more: A cattle ranch is cut out of tropical forest in Ecuador.
credit: Dr. Morley Read via Shutterstock