I’m currently working my way through my bookcase, reading all the books I have had since childhood that I haven’t quite gotten round to reading. In the last few months I’ve ticked off The Diary of Anne Frank, Little Women and Jane Eyre. Surrounded by the books that have been my faithful companions for the last decade or so, I started thinking about other favourite things from when I was a kid. One of the things that springs to mind is my parents playing their vinyl records for us to dance around to. The sounds of The Beatles, The Pretenders and The Eurythmics could be heard blaring out in our living room many a Saturday of yesteryear. Whilst I am partial to a good bit of classic British pop, one of our favourite records was the soundtrack to The Jungle Book. Timeless classics like Ooh ooh ohh, I wanna be like you, the bare necessities and trust in me. It got me thinking – what would The Jungle Book be without the wildlife? And more importantly what would our rainforests be like without it?
Rainforests are synonymous with the wildlife that lives in them. It’s hard to imagine a rainforest without picturing monkeys and gibbons swinging through the trees, birds swooping through the canopies and tigers prowling through the undergrowth. But this image could be a thing of the past in Sumatra as news comes in of its wildlife taking two serious blows since the start of 2012.
Last week the Director General of Protection and Nature Conservation in Sumatra announced that in 2011, 40 Sumatran tigers had been killed. This figure alone is bad enough, but when you take it in the context that there’s thought to be less than 300 Sumatran tigers left in the wild then this is over 10% of the remaining population. The tigers in question were thought to be killed due to either conflicts with local communities or by poachers who sell the skins for a incredibly high prices.
And it’s not just the tigers that are suffering. On Tuesday it was announced that the Sumatran elephant has now been placed on the list of critically endangered species. The move was taken after half the population was lost in a single generation. The main cause of the rapid decline is thought to be deforestation, with 69% of the elephant’s habitat being lost in the last 25 years.
So what would our rainforests be like without the wildlife? Areas that were once so full of life they practically hummed, now eerily quiet and still. A rather desolate picture, but all is not lost. The time to act is now! By working with our local partners, we’re protecting and restoring areas of rainforest in seven different countries to ensure that all the amazing wildlife found in rainforests still has somewhere to call home.
And you can do your bit to help too. Become a Rainforest Guardian and from as little as £2 a month you can help us protect the rainforests and step up to make sure that this story has a happy ending.
Last month saw NGOS, government officials and industry reps from all around the world descend on Durban in South Africa to take part in the UN climate negotiations. Up for discussion was the topic of saving tropical forests to help in the fight against climate change and to find out more about the outcome of those discussions click here.
The negotiations lasted 12 days and in that time our team on the ground planted over 86,000 trees in Harapan Rainforest to help restore the forest that has been damaged. Not bad for 12 days work ey?
Well that’s the end of our twelve days of a rainforest friendly Christmas. What’s the first thing you’re going to do to step up for tropical rainforests?
You can find out more about how you can step up for tropical rainforests and other nature by visiting our Stepping Up For Nature pages.
Photo courtesy of Ian Rowland
It was 11 years ago that the RSPB started looking for suitable sites for our first flagship rainforest project. We finally settled on a site in Indonesia, which is now known as Harapan Rainforest. Harapan means hope in Indonesian and the project really has been a beacon on hope in many ways. The project has protected an area of tropical rainforest two thirds the size of Greater London, helping protect the homes of some amazing species including the Sumatran tiger, the rhinocerous hornbill and the Malayan sun bear. It’s helping to preserve the way of life of the indigenous Bathin Sembilan people and encourage them to be enthusiastic caretakers of the forest themselves. And last, but by no means least, it’s paved the way for similar projects to be set up around Sumatra. Thanks to the pioneering work of our partners, Burung Indonesia, the Indonesian Government changed the law and now production forests can be managed for conservation and restoration instead of logging.
Tropical rainforests are amazing. Not only are they home to millions of species of plants and animals, support over a billion of the world’s poorest people, and provide us with water, food and medicines, but they are also one of our key tools in the fight against climate change.
Tropical rainforests act as carbon stores, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and locking the carbon up. It’s estimated that tropical forests are responsible for locking up millions of tonnes of carbon and that deforestation releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire planets transport systems do over the same period.
So we need to keep tropical forests standing in order to help fight climate change, especially because for every 1 degree increase we see in average global temperatures, 10% of species will be in danger of going extinct.
To find out what else you can do to help fight climate change, check out our climate pages.
Our friends over at WWF launched their palm oil score card back in November. Major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers were scored on four areas to provide an insight into whether they are acting responsibly in terms of palm oil use and sourcing.
The top mark on the score card was 9 and four of our major supermarkets managed to get the top score, proving that even companies who deal with large amounts of palm oil can step up and make a difference. A positive step in the right direction for nature, but there’s still more work to be done.
To find out more about who came top, click here.