Deforestation: a Killer of Orangutans and Childhood Dreams

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Deforestation: a Killer of Orangutans and Childhood Dreams

One subject that I have yet to fully explore on this blog is the issue of deforestation. Although I had lightly touched on the subject in a previous blog post “Don’t Palm Us Off” about the destruction of the Orangutan’s forest habitats in South East Asia in order to make way for palm oil plantations, I thought I would revisit the subject again.

Because there is another forest dear to my heart that I thought should get a mention: The Amazon Rainforest.

When I was only very young, my parents invested in an illustrated collection of what was known as the Childcraft set of encyclopaedia. My parents were extremely strict and I wasn’t allowed to have any real adventures of my own, so this curious girl devoured those pages and lived vicariously through them. In one of the volumes, I learned about the Amazon rainforest and was mesmerised by its images. Birds, insects, butterflies, trees and tribal people! I decided that like those famous explorers and adventurers (“Dr Livingstone I presume…”) the Amazon rainforest would be a place I would visit as an adult. Needless to say that this hasn’t happened yet – but it’s definitely on my bucket list!

Since I made that vow as a young girl, I have since followed the news over the years about the Amazon rainforest and its subsequent destruction at the hands of humans. For an objective account of these environmental changes watch the YouTube video by Earth Outreach below:

For a greenie like myself, the issue of deforestation appears to be an open and shut case: don’t cut down trees – exclamation point! But this is simplifying what is rather a complex subject given that there are many factors that cause communities the world over to reach for the chainsaw and matchbox – or both.

The primary factors being of course economical and some would argue survival. How easy it is to judge people in the third world from the comfort of my gorgeous country home. How dare those people make a livelihood that involves cutting down magnificent trees to plant monocrops! How dare they build and develop urban areas in which to live! How dare they cut those trees down to make things for us the rest of the world – especially the privileged West – to buy!

And to add to the complexity of this topic, I myself am not entirely blameless given that here on our property we are clearing some 4-5 acres to make way for our own organic crops. Well, perhaps not just organic crops, I should clarify that our aim is to create a permaculture food forest so we’ll be replanting some of these areas with hundreds of carefully selected edible and useful trees. Does that make us less guilty of the crime of deforestation? I hope so.

Anyway, until we can tackle the root causes of deforestation such as poverty, greed, population growth just to name a few, the issue of deforestation isn’t going to go away in a hurry. But then I remember what happened to those inhabitants of Easter Island (if you don’t know, deforestation was responsible for wiping out their kind) and I think: perhaps we best start working these problems out before the human species finds itself, not just without a rainforest, but without a planet to call home.

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