Forests play a double edged role in the environment and in the narrative of climate change. The role or roles in this case can be seen clearly in their ability to store carbon thereby reducing its presence in the atmosphere on one hand and to double its release, thereby increasing its presence in the atmosphere on the other hand. When forests fall to illegal logging or agricultural conversion, not only do they release carbon back into the atmosphere, they also become sources of harmful greenhouse gases instead of serving as important carbon “sinks”.
Today, deforestation and degradation account for up to 20 percent of global manmade CO2 emissions- more than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world- making forests as much a ‘contributor’ to climate change as a hero in the efforts against it. This shows us how important it is to protect and manage our forests sustainably to ensure this third role of ‘contributor’ is relegated to the side-lines.
We need harsher policies that protect our forest from incessant cutting without appropriate regulations. Policies that make it harder for businesses to fraternize timber sellers who are not accredited with a certificate that signifies their produce was gotten in the most sustainable way possible. We also need greater awareness programs that will enable the communities develop keener interest in protecting the forests around them.