Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They produce vital oxygen and provide homes for people and wildlife.
Many of the world’s most threatened and endangered animals live in forests, and 1.6 billion people rely on benefits forests offer, including food, fresh water, clothing, traditional medicine and shelter.
Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns.
WHY IT MATTERS
The world has lost nearly half its forests for agriculture, development or resource extraction. We’re losing 18.7 million acres of forests annually and this decline is often unnoticed, delaying appropriate responses.
Deforestation occurs when forests are converted to non-forest uses, such as agriculture and road construction, as well as when unsustainable timber logging takes place.
Forest degradation occurs when forest ecosystems lose their capacity to provide important goods and services to people and nature.
Over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity can be found in forests. The degradation and loss of forests threaten the survival of many species, and reduce the ability of forests to provide essential services such as clean air and water, healthy soils for agriculture, and climate regulation.
Healthy forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people globally, one billion of whom are among the world’s poorest. Deforestation and forest degradation have real impacts on the lives of the most vulnerable communities.
Climate mitigation and adaptation
Deforestation and forest degradation undermine forests’ role in mitigating climate change. It is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation.
WHAT RAFT IS DOING
Sustainable forest management practices can reverse the effects of deforestation and degradation and regain the ecological, social, climatic and economic benefits of forests.
RAFT has been working with communities, companies and governments in Asia Pacific to develop and strengthen their knowledge and skills to maintain both the health and productivity of the region’s forests. This include meeting legality requirements, practicing reduced impact logging (RIL), identifying and managing high conservation value forest (HCVF) areas and improving relations with local communities and forest stakeholders. This work has brought to impressive results.
In 2006, RAFT was working with 5 timber concessions. Today, the number has grown to 79, covering 6 million hectares –1.3 million of which are FSC certified. In addition, 43 local communities have improved their skills in management of community forest operations.