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Last modified: 21 June 2012
Image: Marco Lambertini
The RSPB is calling on the residents of Surrey to do their bit and step up for tropical rainforests by making little changes to their weekly shop.
The greatest threats to tropical rainforests are logging, sometimes illegal, for wood, paper and pulp, and conversion of the land for intensive agriculture of palm oil, soya, beef and other products.
Many of the products created from the destruction of tropical rainforests find their way on to our supermarket shelves.
Timber, pulp and paper from illegally logged tropical rainforests can turn up in anything from birthday cards and books to garden furniture and packaging for toys.
Palm oil is used in lots of things, from toiletries to biscuits, and even things like coffee and cocoa can be grown in areas where tropical rainforests once stood.
Samantha Stokes, from the RSPB in the South East said: “With the Rio+20 Earth Summit being held this week [20-22 June], which aims to find a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, it is a timely reminder that we should all be taking small steps, which together can make a big difference.
“Tropical rainforests are home to almost 75% of land-based species, that’s a whopping 6 million different types of animals, including three quarters of the world’s most endangered birds and 90% of the world’s invertebrates.
“Yet every 4 seconds, an area of tropical rainforest the size of a football pitch is destroyed for commercial gain.
“Tropical rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s surface, but it’s now only 6%.”
So, what can we do to step up and help when we are thousands of miles away?
When trawling the shelves during your weekly shop, keep your eyes peeled for symbols that show you that products are rainforest-friendly. Look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified TM seal as you shop and make sure that the wood and paper products you buy have the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) â logo (recycled FSC â is the best you can get, but any FSC â logo is good).
Look for palm oil free products when purchasing toiletries, biscuits and confectionary. This can be harder than you might think though, as it is often listed as vegetable oil, but there are some palm oil free products out there, such as RSPB Love Nature biscuits and chocolate, and their Skinny Dipper range of toiletries.
Miss Stokes added: “If we can use and buy less of the things made from ingredients that damage tropical rainforests, it will help lessen the demand to produce them, which should in turn reduce the amount of deforestation that occurs.
“Try and find out more about the products you buy and what’s in them to help you make rainforest-friendly choices when you shop.”
If you can’t be sure that the product you’re buying is rainforest-friendly then buying less of it will help too – or think about whether you really need a product.
If you shop at Tesco, you can also donate your Green Clubcard points to Together for Trees, the partnership between the RSPB and Tesco to help protect tropical rainforests around the world. As part of the partnership, the RSPB is working with Tesco to reduce their tropical rainforest footprint, and help Tesco customers reduce theirs too.
Helping to protect tropical rainforests is just one of a variety of ways people can do their bit to ‘Step Up for Nature’ and help save species in trouble.
The RSPB’s ‘Stepping Up for Nature’ movement encourages everybody to take steps, no matter how big or small, in order to help protect nature and ensure the Government meets its target to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2020. For more information and ideas on what you can do visit the campaign website www.rspb.org.uk/steppingup
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