Why deforestation matters
Around 1.6 billion people rely on forest directly for food, shelter, fuel and income. Forests regulate our climate, remove harmful CO2 emissions and can help slow the rate of climate change. They also provide protection against natural disasters like floods and landslides. Yet every year, as an ever-growing population places unsustainable demands on our planet, we lose 13 million hectares of forest.
The Unilever–WWF partnership will raise awareness of the importance of forests to life on earth as well as the threats our forests face. With world leaders meeting for UN climate talks in Paris in December, it aims to engage millions of consumers on the issues and give them practical ways to raise their voice.
Protecting forests around the world
The partnership will help protect a million trees in Brazil and Indonesia – two areas at high risk of deforestation – supporting a long-term WWF programme to lay the foundations for protecting forests around the world. Our goal is to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, restore forest areas, promote sustainable forest management and increase tree stocks in agricultural landscapes.
The protection of trees is important alongside the planting of new ones. When a tree is cut down, you don’t just lose that tree but also impact every system that tree supports individually and collectively as part of a forest. Tree planting is part of the solution but without protecting, managing and helping restore the vast areas of existing degraded forest, we will always be fighting a losing battle.
Change is happening
China aims to have 23% of its land covered in forest by 2020, replanting around 500,000 km2. Since 2000, Brazil has more than halved its rate of deforestation. Leaving a significant amount of trees intact, almost half a billion tonnes of carbon emissions have been prevented from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. It is important that we keep this momentum going.
As Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman says: “Stopping deforestation is an urgent priority in tackling climate change. Forests are second only to the oceans as the largest global store of carbon and support 80% of terrestrial biodiversity across the globe. As a business it is crucial that we operate sustainably and take action to help consumers live sustainably.”