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Australians concerned about effects of deforestation and its links to future pandemics

Rainforest Alliance Media Release

New research by the Rainforest Alliance reveals that 83% of Aussies are concerned about the global effects that the destruction of the world’s rainforests is having on the planet. This comes following reports that rates of deforestation have accelerated in recent years. With scientists also warning that the current rates of deforestation could make us more vulnerable to future pandemics, 79% of Australians say this is something they are worried about.

This World Rainforest Day, the Rainforest Alliance is reminding consumers that everyone can do something to help through their individual actions, no matter how small, and that there is power in the collective.

Melanie Mokken, Markets Transformation Manager Australia/New Zealand for the Rainforest Alliance said;

“Unfortunately, deforestation rates are accelerating – triggering a global chain reaction of increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising temperatures, and devastating forest fires. Nearly half of the Earth’s original forest cover has already been lost, and each year an additional 32 million acres are destroyed. In Australia alone, an area of forest and bushland the size of Melbourne Cricket Ground is destroyed every two minutes which is astounding.

“Deforestation puts not only the health of our planet at risk, it also puts human health at risk. This has been made even more apparent during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which leaders at the UN, WHO and WWF, amongst many others, agree is linked to deforestation. When forests are destroyed, it misplaces wildlife species, putting them in closer proximity to each other and also to humans. Scientists have been warning for years that this can increase human exposure to new infectious diseases and make us more vulnerable to pandemics similar to what we have experienced with COVID-19. By reducing deforestation of tropical forests and supporting the communities that live there, it is possible to reduce the risk of future pandemics,” said Ms Mokken.

Agriculture is one of the largest drivers of deforestation, responsible for over 80 % of tropical deforestation alone. With an exploding global population (projected to reach 9 billion by 2050), it is profitable for businesses to cut down forests to plant ‘cash crops’ such as soy and oil palm.

“The best thing we can do to fight climate change is keep forests standing. We often hear that our individual actions don’t matter, however that is not the case. Everyone can make a difference in the fight to save forests and it can be as simple as making informed daily choices. There is great power in the collective, and when we act together it is possible to make a difference. We can do this by amplifying each other’s voices and signalling to political and business leaders that sustainability is important to us and by making small changes in our everyday lives.

“The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers to advance a variety of strategies, such as increasing productivity (growing more food on less land), and with traditional forest-dwellers to develop livelihoods that protect forests and ecosystems. By looking for products with the Rainforest Alliance green frog seal consumers can be assured that the product is sourced from producers committed to using land management practices that protect nature while boosting rural livelihoods, said Ms Mokken.

The Rainforest Alliance also works with governments, companies, and local and international civil society organisations to advance far-reaching policies that support rural producers who invest substantial time, labour, and financial resources in sustainability transformation. Our work with both public and private-sector stakeholders aims to raise awareness and influence decision makers to support change.

An example of this is the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, of which Rainforest Alliance is a supporting partner: a multi-stakeholder initiative including the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and 35 leading cocoa and chocolate companies. This includes Australian favourites such as Haigh’s, Whittaker’s and Palmer’s, as well as international brands such as Mars, Ferrero and Nestlé who also source Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. Together they aim to end deforestation and restore forest areas.

What you can do today to help

Purchase mindfully

By buying foods grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and products which show the Rainforest Alliance’s green frog seal, consumers can be confident they are making choices that are better for people, and for nature. Coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas and other fresh fruit products that bear this seal all come from more sustainable farms where nature is protected and communities thrive.

The Rainforest Alliance has just launched its Take Action platform, Let’s Grow Together, providing consumers with the inspiration and tools they need to make more sustainable choices and changes every day on an individual, collective and global level. This practical platform provides guidance on a range of topics, including choosing certified products, sustainability at home and using your voice.

Note: An independently commissioned piece of research was conducted in June 2021 involving 1,001 respondents aged 18-65+ across all states in Australia.

About Rainforest Alliance:

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organisation working in more than 70 countries at the intersection of business, agriculture and forests. The Rainforest Alliance is creating a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities. By bringing farmers, forest communities, companies and consumers together it addresses some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of today. The organisation changes the way the world produces, sources and consumes, with a focus on cocoa, coffee, tea, bananas, forest products and palm oil through its certification program, tailored supply chain services, landscape and community work and advocacy. In 2019, more than five million hectares of land and more than two million​ farmers were certified according to the Rainforest Alliance or UTZ standards, which are designed to improve economic, environmental and social sustainability.

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3 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    Read this out to Barnaby Rooting Rorting Robbing Redfaced Ratbag Joyce and see if he could pass a comprehension test…

  2. wam

    It is reprehensible that there is no outcry against Australia’s world leading rate of extinction of native animals. By the time we wake up the only koalas will be in overseas zoos.

  3. corvusboreus

    The only people who really give a rodent’s shrivelled scrotum about accelerating rates of deforestation are tree-hugging loonies.
    To those who operate mostly in the insulated environment of conditioned air, trees are just an aesthetic indulgence that it would be nice to be able to afford to keep (but, you know…)

    I recall posting here extensively about the fragmentation and destruction of the last bastion of critically endangered white box forest to make way for an export coal mine at Maules creek.
    Zero expressions of anyphuxgiven were offered in response.
    The trees of Leards continue to fall without fanfare or funeral, since most of those offering ground opposition have dispersed through either admission of defeat or deterrence by legal injunction.
    Another investment in assured extinction gleefully sanctioned by all but the fringe.

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