Rainforests in decline (and why all tree planting is not equal)

Dedicate a tree in Ecuador Rainforest in Ecuador

Rainforests are amazing places which are home to amazing trees. Although rainforests make up only 6% of the world’s surface area they contain half of all known species, including many animals, birds, insects and plants that are found nowhere else on the planet.  Rainforest trees are also special, with many growing to great heights and living for hundreds of years.  These trees underpin the great variety of life that exists in rainforests and provide a great many products and services that are essential to us as humans.  These include not only the oxygen that we breathe but also the 80% of our diets, the hundreds of medicines and the great variety of other products derived from rainforest trees or those species that rely on them.

However, despite their importance, rainforests and their trees are in serious trouble.  Facing attack from loggers, land clearance for agriculture, invasive species, disease and over exploitation of their precious resources, rainforests are shrinking at an alarming rate and trees are becoming threatened with extinction.  Globally, over 8,000 species of tree are threatened and 1,000 of these are so critically endangered that they are likely to disappear completely unless action is taken to save them now.

Macaw The Macaw: under threat

Tree planting is one obvious way of reversing this decline and a number of projects around the world are doing just this.  However, many of these projects focus on quantity rather than quality – replanting hundreds of fast growing, non-native trees, which may look good in the short term but which cannot replace the native species that have grown there for hundreds or thousands of years.   These native tree species fit perfectly into the forest where they have evolved, providing food and shelter for countless animal and plant species that often could not survive without them.
A great example is the monkey pot tree, found only in the Chocó rainforest of Ecuador.  Its large coconut like fruits are an essential source of food for the endangered great green macaw and without this tree the macaw would find it hard to survive.  With our local partners, the Global Trees Campaign is using this species, along with others such as Tangare (a tree found only in Ecuador that has become extremely threatened due to logging for its timber) to restore the rainforest of the Awacachi Corridor in Ecuador.  By focussing our efforts on conserving and replanting threatened native trees in Ecuador and around the world, it is possible to both tackle the decline of rainforests and prevent these trees from becoming extinct.  By planting a tree in this way you can also save a species.

Tree planting in Ecuador Local child planting a Tangare tree in Ecuador

You can help the Global Trees Campaign save threatened trees and forest areas by buying our Dedicate a Tree conservation gifts, in partnership with Tree2mydoor.  You can plant a monkey pot tree in Ecuador, a mahogany in the rainforests of Belize, a monkey puzzle in Chile or a conifer in Vietnam.

A joint initiative between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the Global Trees Campaign is the only international campaign dedicated to saving threatened trees. Find out more about our work on the Global Trees Campaign website or Facebook page.