Encouraging measures against the deforestation of the tropical rainforest with special regard to damaged peatland areas

Introduction

Over the last several decades countries around the world have been continuously confronted with the outcomes of global warming and deforestation. More than half of the world’s forests have been destroyed in the last 10,000 years, with the majority of this loss having occurred in the last 50 years. According to biologists of the Chicago Field Museum, countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and many more have lost most of their rainforests. This deforestation is caused due to many different reasons, with desertification, climate change and the massive increase of the human population being only a few of these. A major reason for deforestation is the need for agriculture. Farmers and large multinational cooperation cut forests to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. At the current rate of deforestation the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in less than a hundred years. Although countries have been talking about taking measures to cease this issue, most results were vague or had more negative consequences than positive. 

Definition of Key-Terms

Deforestation

Deforestation is the cutting of all kinds of forests. This can be intentional destruction or removal of trees and other vegetation for agricultural, commercial, housing, or firewood use, without them being replanted or regenerated naturally.

Peatland Areas

Areas in which peat is found. Peat consists of 90% water and 10% plant matter. The wet conditions, which characteristic peatlands, provide ideal conditions for certain animal groups. They are found in almost all countries in the world. They cover 3% of the world’s total land area, and represent half of the Earth's wetland areas

Desertification

It has been defined by the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification as “land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry sub humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.”

Commercial logging

Commercial logging is the cutting down of trees with the reason of selling the pulp, timber, products or fuel. That means that it is unnecessary and still, it is one of the major reasons of deforestation.

Causes of Deforestation

The expansion of the world’s human population to 7 billion humans has a major impact on deforestation, as a rising number of people demands more space for living and growing food. The expanding population is therefore engaged in deforestation as they need to clear land on which to live and additionally use the resources which are located near them in order to continue fueling their infrastructure.

Agriculture is also a big reason of deforestation. According to a report compiled by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), approximately 80 percent of the deforestation in the world today is attributed to agriculture. Rainforests are being cut down to create new place for farming and living.

However, not only human activity play a major role with the destroying of the forests, but natural disasters as well. Tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis and especially fires can completely tear down forests the size of a soccer field.

Commercial logging also has a major impact on the clearing of the rain forest. This conflict has only stated occurring in the past decade. Rain forests were permitted to regenerate naturally for long periods of time before re-harvesting. However, in the developing world, there are increasing demands for hardwoods such as ebony and mahogany. The rate at which trees are cut down is rising so that the industry can meet these demands. In third world countries people need the timber for firewood, as it’s the only source of fuel available to people in those areas. The heavy and dangerous machinery used is highly damaging the forests overall. There are numerous of other causes but these are the major ones.

Effects of Deforestation

It has a great effect on the wildlife habitat. Rain Forests cover 2% of the Earth’s surface, or 6% of its landmass, yet they house over half the plant and animal species on Earth. Without the rain forests as habitat for those organisms those will not be able to survive. In the past decades the number of threatened species has risen. The extinction of many species will also disrupt the food web those animals are in and therefor animals who were dependent on them will die as well. Especially the species in the peatland areas suffer under the effects of deforestation, as they cannot live outside of their areas. Desertification is also an after match forest clearing. It is the process by, which fertile land is transformed into desert as a result of deforestation, and agriculture use/practices. Another effect of deforestation is the greenhouse gases. It’s estimated that deforestation currently contributes about 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the process of photosynthesis trees take carbon dioxide in and give oxygen out. Since deforestation removes the carbon ‘sinks’, the carbon dioxide cannot be developed into oxygen and therefor the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases. So deforestation is also one of the biggest causes of global warming and therefor is very dangerous for our environment.

Peatlands

About 60 % of wetlands in the world are peatlands and they are in at least 175 countries in the world. They cover around 515,000 km² of Europe extending to 4 million km² of the world’s land area. Natural peatlands keep carbon and help moderate climate change. Many peat swamps have turned into sources of greenhouse gas emissions due to human actions, such as deforestation. Large areas of peatlands from all over the world are drained for forestry and agriculture. As a result, the organic carbon that is normally under the peat, which can go up to 22 m into the ground, suddenly goes to the air, where it emits carbon dioxide. In Southeast Asia for example there have been several peat fires which released huge amounts of carbon dioxide as well. But a main reason of cutting down the peatlands is to provide land for oil palm plantations.

UN Involvement and Recent Events

The United Nations have always been actively seized on the matter of deforestation. The topics of deforestation and desertification were firstly addressed in 1972 at an international level at the Stockholm Conference. Since then there have been various resolutions and projects concerning these issues but none of them have had a major impact as the conflict has only been spreading further in a lot of countries. The United Nations launched a program in 2008 called UN-REDD, which stands for United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries. Its idea is to be the foundation for a system in which More Economically Developed Countries (MEDC’s) would pay Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDC’s) to slow down climate change by protecting and planting forests. The project itself will begin in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DPRC), Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. On the 17th of November 2011 UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Indonesia and he stressed that “Deforestation not only threatens the planet’s climate and national economic development, but also communities whose income, culture and way of life depend on healthy forests”.

Possible Solutions

A possible solution is reforestation. A lot of countries especially in East Asia have already made great progress in replanting crops and they have planted millions of new trees. One could also introduce a policy which would urge that every cut down tree must be replanted. This is a very basic solution but also one of the most contributing ones.

Big companies have the power to change the deforestation and help the forest and peatlands. They can introduce different policies to create a better awareness within their companies. For example they could only use post-consumer recycled paper and timber.

Since Commercial Logging has such a big impact on deforestation one could control it by marking specific areas which would later be used for the sale of the products. This could change the depletion of forests.

Changing policies especially in LEDC’s could help to safe our rain forests. Making the felling of trees a major crime could decrease deforestation as it would be a bigger risk. This would not completely stop deforestation but it would stop big companies of destroying our nature.

For all of these solutions to work, governments will have to work with organizations and committees and create and/or change the countries policies.

Setting global guidelines for adequate prices, storage and a better distribution of food

Introduction

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, once stated: “Food and nutrition are among my top priorities. In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry. I want to see an end to hunger in my lifetime.“ In order for this goal to be accomplished however, one must make radical changes in the pricing, storage and overall distribution of food. Currently, 870 million people in the world do not eat enough to be healthy. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), this affects every eighth human being. In developing countries, an alarming rate of almost 15% of the population is undernourished. This specifically affects Asia and the Pacific. With some 563 million, they have the largest share of the world’s hungry people. Asia, Africa and Latin America are the regions with the biggest food-related problems because there is a lack of infrastructure, but also misdistribution of and inadequate access to food. Due to malnutrition, approximately 2.6 million children under the age of five die each year. This amounts one third of the global total. Since 2007 the number of malnourished children who received special nutritional support has however doubled, which demonstrates the immense progress that has been made over the last couple of years.

Definition of Key Terms

WFP (World Food Programme): This is world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, funded entirely by voluntary donations from governments, companies and individuals

FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization): The FAO is the largest autonomous agency within the United Nations, striving to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, and to improve agricultural productivity and better the condition of rural populations.

FAO Food Price Index: It is measure of the monthly change in international prices of basket food commodities.

FS (Food Security): Food security is based on three important pillars: food availability, food access, and food utilization. A person, household or community, region or nation is food secure when all members have physical and economic access at all times to buy, produce, obtain or consume sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life at all times.

Food Prices

During the financial and economic crisis of 2008, a global food crisis was also created, which caused economical and political instability and social unrest, in both LEDCs and MEDCs. Entire systems broke down due to this crisis. Food simply became unaffordable for the people, especially in poorer nations. An important reason for the soaring food prices is and was financial speculation. For traders who hold large shares in food the soaring prices are beneficial, however, for the poor it becomes impossible to purchase enough food to remain healthy.

The increase of oil prices also caused escalations in the costs of food transportation, fertilizers and industrial agriculture. In order to avoid another food crisis, global guidelines for adequate pricing must be set.

Furthermore, a systemic cause for the price rise is held to be the diversion of food crops for making first generation biofuels. Farmers often utilize the majority of their land to grow crops for fuel production, subsequently leaving fewer resources available for food production.

Some of the most commonly associated reasons with the increase in food prices are also harvest failure and climate change. Some regions are drying out and becoming unfit for agricultural use as a result of climate change. Hunger on a local level is one of the consequences and can have serious effects on global prices. This price increase has severely affected developing countries, where family’s daily money for food purchase is very limited. Many families in these countries spend up to 80% of their income on food and if the prices for food double, these families will not be able to buy enough anymore.

Another concern is that earth’s population is growing rapidly and that by 2050, when the population is expected to grow to 9 billion, it will be extremely difficult to feed everyone.

With the increasing wealth in some parts of the world come changes in lifestyle. Due to this, the global meat consumption is steadily rising and with it the food prices. One kilogram of beef requires seven kilograms of feed grain, concluding that usage in industrial, feed and input intensive foods, not population growth among poor consumers of simple grain, are responsible for the increasing prices. Thus the growing demand makes edible grains too expensive for many inhabitants of LEDCs. Instead of supporting hungry children in LEDCs, the grain is thereby fed to animals. 

Food Storage

Food storage is extremely important industrially, as well as as a traditional domestic practice. Benefits of food storage include preparedness for catastrophes and emergencies involving food scarcity of famine. Furthermore, food storage enables a better balanced diet throughout a year or the protection from animals or theft. However, what seems to be a fundamental task to us may be extremely problematic in other regions of our world. Unjust social systems or armed conflicts contribute greatly to inadequacies in food production, transportation, distribution and storage.

In regions of war for example, frequent power cuts can hamper food storage and lead to deterioration of food, before it can reach the consumer. Landslides in urban slums can even provoke hygiene risks associated with food storage and preparation. In many LEDCs both the quality and the quantity of the food supply is poor. This is because they often lack financial resources and cannot afford pesticides for secure food storage. If global guidelines for issues such as food storage were settled, and LEDCs were aided in this way, there is a chance of food scarcity being almost entirely eradicated.

Food Distribution

Food distribution involves transporting food from suppliers to consumers. It is necessary because some environmental conditions in different regions are more suited to growing certain crops or are better at holding types of livestock than others are. With the help of food distribution governments and businesses can develop efficient networks and ensure that supply does not exceed demand, by determining the nutritional needs of a society. Food distribution is thereby a very important factor in public nutrition and can divided into different categories: transport infrastructure, food handling technology and regulation and adequate source and supply logistics based on demand. Differing ways of food distribution have serious impacts on our environment, economy, culture and our communities. Some of these practices contribute to the climate change, harm animals and are deeply unjust. Regulations concerning food distribution must be clearly made in order to create a sustainable future for our children.

The distribution of food over long distances brings multiple environmental, social and economic costs with it. Long supply chains may excessively harm the environment, especially when food travels by air. Additionally this sort of food distribution depends heavily on diminishing oil reserves and is thereby geopolitically vulnerable. Transport policies, business logistics or local food campaigns could however lead us towards a more sustainable food system.

Conclusion

As Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General said, “Sustainable development and inclusive growth will not happen on empty stomachs”. Food pricing, storage and distribution all play a critical role in eradicating hunger. Food Prices have been rising over the last few years, reaching their peak in 2008, during the financial crisis. Since then, the rise of prices has slowed. The consumption of the developed world grows increasingly meat orientated, which causes hunger in other, less developed regions. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion before 2050, feeding everyone will become a difficult task. Another issue, food storage, is also becoming extremely vital in regions of war or those impacted by natural catastrophes. In these regions, secure food storage is nearly impossible because of a lack of financial resources. If global guidelines for these diverse issues were set, LEDCs were increasingly aided by MEDCs or other organizations, and food distribution would be better regulated, food scarcity could be eradicated and the climate change could be slowed. 

Beta