According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one in three households use wood as their main source of fuel for cooking, with over half of all wood produced in the world being used as energy.

Although this resource may be an efficient means of living for the present generation, it is neither an environmentally-friendly nor a sustainable one. This is why countries in Latin America are teaming up to adopt innovative approaches to preserving forests and reducing climate change through Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

In an article by The World Bank, REDD+ is described as being “a global initiative to help create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests; it offers developing countries incentives to reduce emissions from forest land, while developed countries pay for the carbon that is not released into the atmosphere as a result of forest conservation.”

With only about a quarter of the world’s original old-growth forests intact, environmental initiatives in countries such as Chile, El Salvador and Mexico have begun through REDD+. These include plans such as strengthening communication within local communities, developing new approaches to measuring the amount of carbon lost in trees, helping communities affected by natural events restore their landscape and building community management of natural resources.

Collectively, these investments are saving the trees, but more importantly are ensuring a step in the right direction to achieving a thriving planet for our future generations. These initiatives will not just protect forested areas, but will also help preserve most of the world’s freshwater sources and aid in mitigating the effects of climate change. Since trees absorb carbon emissions, this in turn helps to keep the world’s temperatures from rising.

Forests have always been vital to the survival of mankind, but their preservation does not just benefit one individual: it helps everyone, from the businessman across the world to the poor farmer reliant on the forest’s ecosystem for his livestock’s wellbeing. Whether for food, timber or medicine, forests are important and protecting them ultimately helps improve and benefit the lives of all. By implementing green initiatives today, we are protecting the people of Latin America from the inevitable damage that comes from cutting down just one more tree.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: FAO, World Bank
Photo: World Bank