2021-03-03 GENERAL HOUSE

World Wildlife Day celebration – Forests: Indispensable Ecosystems

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day celebration, 3rd March, is Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and the Planet“. It highlights the importance of forests as sources of our livelihood and survival on the planet and invites us to reflect on our attitude towards the forests knowing that they cover only 31% of the earth’s land surface and yet half of the world’s population rely on them for their livelihood and survival. We depend so much on the forests for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the firewood we use and the vital services we get from them including carbon storage, absorption of harmful greenhouse gasses, climate regulation, filtering of water through tree roots, trapping of dust particles and pollutants from the air, providing timber and the bark of tree and herbs for medicine, as well as being the habitat to more than half of the world’s land-based species. Forests products continue to be a vital part of our daily lives in many ways: sitting on a chair, reading a book or newspaper, using toilet paper, paper towels, corks, notebooks, furniture, medicines, cosmetics, detergents; developments in the areas of healthcare and pharmaceutics also. Despite this, deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest in Brazil loses 1.35 million hectares of forest each year, DR Congo 0.481, Columbia 0.340, Bolivia 0.177, and Indonesia 0.155. The destruction of the natural habitat and loss of animal and plant species, global warming, the destruction of the water cycle, soil erosion and desertification are the consequences of deforestation. According to statistics, an average of 28 million hectares of forests are being cut down every year since 2016. It is estimated that half of the world’s rainforest has been destroyed in just one century. At the current rate of deforestation, the world’s rainforests will be gone in 100 years. Needless to ask the question, what will happen then when the forest is gone? The image of the earth taken 3.7 billion miles away from a spacecraft is a tiny speck of light floating in a sunbeam. The earth is the only home we have in the cosmos. We do not know where else human life is possible.

In “Laudato Si’”, Pope Francis draws our attention to the fact that global warming is the consequence of human irresponsible exploitation of the earth’s resources. He believes that “we can take from the bounty of the earth whatever we need for subsistence” but warns that “we must exercise responsibility and care for its resources”. Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI in “Caritas in Veritate” affirms that “the environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility… to abhor its “reckless exploitation” of the air, water or land or needless disruption of the natural world”. Pope Francis insists that “we can no longer be indifferent to the exploitation of our common home”, and proposes change based on an integral ecology; the awareness that “everything is connected” as well as a “spiritual conversion” capable of leading to a new consciousness of our relationship with ourselves, with others, with society, with creation and with God.

Putting a stop to deforestation can go a long way to stabilize the climate, save wildlife species and protect our well-being. In practical terms, this means planting trees, using less paper, using recycled products, buying only sustainable wood products, not burning firewood excessively, reducing air pollution, switching to renewable energies, practicing eco-forestry, raising forest protection awareness, respecting the rights of indigenous people, supporting agro-ecological methods which increase yields while reducing environmental impacts, supporting organizations that fight deforestation, as well as not supporting corrupt politicians, governments and systems.


Br. Francis Lukong – Secretariat of Solidarity


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