What Can We Do To Reverse Deforestation?
The importance of trees in our climate cannot be overstated, yet trees and forests are still being lost at an alarming rate. This article highlights three technology companies that are helping reduce the rate of loss.
Bonus: Help with reforestation, plant a tree for free today, find out more below 👇
What Can We Do About Deforestation?
Whilst trees still cover approximately 30% of our landmass, we are losing them at an astounding rate. At the same time, we are facing a climate emergency like no other generation has experienced. Trees are one of natures more effective carbon dioxide absorbing mechanisms, and probably one of the most cost efficient mitigation strategies that we have, with which to address our current "planet-tree" (please excuse the word play on "planetary" ) situation.
In 2019 the Amazon Rainforest fires raised public awareness and caused political outcry, yet continued to contribute to the fastest rate of Amazon deforestation on record, accelerating by more than 30% on the previous year.
The risk of permanent irreversible damage to the Amazon rainforest is palpable. With the total area of forest clearing currently estimated between 15% and 17% there is not far to go before we reach a tipping point known as dieback. If the cleared land reaches 25%, critical mechanisms in the forest will fail, leaving it to dry out and degrade into barren wasteland.
Deforestation Beyond Brazil.
With 60% of the Amazons 2,100,000 square miles falling within Brazil's borders, Brazil is very much in the spotlight when it comes to the Amazon rainforest. However, with the current leadership in the country disavowing global ownership of the rainforest, making an impact on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is a global political challenge beyond the direct influence of most of us.
It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is the heritage of humankind,
But it should be remembered that deforestation is happening all across the planet, not just in South America.
Speaking with Carsten Brinkschulte from Drayd.net, a startup up from Berlin, he told me that in Europe during 2019, there were more than 30,000 fires, and the globally, forest fires contribute up to 20% of the total Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Whilst spending some time in lovely central Europe village, we sadly watched lumber laden lorries roll down the road almost every day. I would like to believe these come from managed forestry plantations, but am yet to find definitive proof.
Wherever you live on the planet, I am sure you don't have to go far to see the felling of trees. Whether it's for housing, roads, infrastructure, timber, to make way for other crops, or simply for fuel. It's happening everywhere, every day.
How Can Technology Help?
On a global scale, we can contribute to charities, we can lobby our politicians, we can simply talk about these matters with our friends and family. However, they can be a lack of sense of ownership, with these large-scale global problems, if there is not something tangible that we can do on a daily basis.
In a previous article on this site, I talked about we could all start planting trees by simply changing the search engine we use. Going beyond this, the technologies mentioned below can help you actively, directly contribute to reforestation as well as help protect against destructive forest fires.
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What I like about this is that your real-world tree planting contributions are represented as your own virtual forest.DigitalHumani's programming interface (API) to plant trees when certain things happen, for example, when a user buys your app, each time a customer purchases a product, refers a friend or even signs up to your newsletter.
What I like about this, is that you can choose which reforestation project you want to support, and at each month you get a report of how many trees you've planted, directly from that project.
Dryad.net is not about planting trees, rather it is about preventing them burning down in the first place. The startup is building a LoRA based IoT wireless network that is specifically adapted for the complex environment of a forest, along with gas-sniffing sensors and a cloud platform to provide super-early warning about smoulders in the forest that could lead to wider fires.
Like a smoke sensor in the home, Dryad.net's solution is intended on providing enough early warning to allow effective intervention and prevention.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, almost 90% of wildfires are caused by humans. With this in mind, Dryad focus their solutions on the areas you might find humans in a forest, such as villages, campsites, along roads and pathways, and power lines.
Our vision is to be able to effectively prevent up to 80% of human-induced wildfires.
Trees are one of the strongest weapons we have in the global fight against climate change, and as such, technology and political solutions to stop deforestation are both important and on the rise. There are many ways that you can support the protection of the forest and to contribute to reforestation, but I hope these three, and switch to a tree-planting search engine give you some ideas that you can get involved with right now.
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