6 Things You Can Actually Do to Help If You Care About the Amazon Forest
We’ve all seen the heart wrenching footage of the Amazon Rainforest as it burns down. It’s especially stunning considering the sheer size of it — the Amazon spreads into eight different countries in South America and covers 40 percent of the entire continent.
Of course, these trees haven’t remained untouched. Deforestation plagues the Amazon, especially in 2019, as the area has seen an 80 percent increase in tree removal. More than 70,000 fires have burned in Brazil alone since the start of the year, too, which have destroyed large swathes of foliage. Efforts to clear out trees and brush with fire have caused the current problem, too, as these small pyres can quickly get out of a person’s control.
Now, acres of the Amazon have gone up in flames, and you might feel a bit helpless watching the smoke rise from the one-of-a-kind ecosystem. But there are some things you can do to help from wherever you are — here are six of them:
1. Funnel Money to Worthy Organizations
An easy way to aid in the Amazon rescue efforts — put your money where your mouth is. Plenty of well-intentioned organizations will put your cash toward plans meant to stop the blaze or rejuvenate the area in its wake.
For instance, donating to the World Wildlife Fund will serve a slew of pro-rainforest purposes. After putting out the fires and offering relief in communities that need it, the WWF will work to change laws in Brazil to help protect the area from brush fires and prevent such damage in the future.
2. Sign a Petition
Make the Brazilian government hear your voice by signing a digital petition that’s pro-rainforest. Already, people have begun to add signatures to a Greenpeace-led petition. Each participant will add further weight to the message that the organization hopes to send.
They write, “Tell [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro’s government to save the Amazon Rainforest and protect the lands of Indigenous and traditional communities.” Each signature makes a difference, so grab your pen — er… head to the Greenpeace website — and add yours today.
3. Participate in Reforestation
The Internet has floated the stat that the Amazon Rainforest produces 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. This isn’t exactly true, but, every time a piece of this massive green space disappears, so, too, do countless trees that do purify the air.
Fortunately, plenty of organizations work to reverse tree loss in the Amazon and beyond. For instance, The Eden Project hires locals — and therefore boosts communities in need — to re-plant deforested areas in Nepal, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique and more. Check out Tree Nation for a similar-yet-different reforestation project.
And, if you can’t chip in or find a project that speaks to you, plant your own tree. Head to your local garden center to find a sapling that will thrive in your hometown’s conditions. Then, select the perfect spot in the yard and dig in — you can help refresh the Amazon with your own tree.
4. Avoid Companies That Deforest the Amazon
Put your money where your activism is. If you’re passionately pro-Amazon, then you shouldn’t be buying from companies that contribute to its demise. You’re probably wondering, how will I know which businesses are rainforest-friendly? If so, you’re in luck — the Rainforest Alliance keeps track of all of the ecosystem-friendly products out there. Research to make sure what you buy won’t inspire further damage to the Amazon in the future.
5. Support Indigenous Communities
Those who have lived for generations in the Amazon know how to protect their home. In fact, they have learned such methods from their ancestors, who have passed on such expertise through the generations. You can protect the rainforest by empowering these people and giving them the support they need to care for their environment.
Groups like Amazon Watch work to do just that. They help indigenous people fight corporate interests, and they inspire the Amazon-based communities to expand their eco-friendly practices, too.
6. Prepare in Advance
Another great thing to do if you want to help save the trees — prepare in advance if you live somewhere prone to such blazes. No, you might not be directly saving the Amazon, but you will be setting a precedent at home that could set an example for those at home and abroad. After all, Smoky the Bear has long reminded us, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
This step will prove especially important as experts predict more and more fires will break out in the years to come. So, for instance, be careful if you burn organic waste. Make sure embers don’t blow away and ignite a new flame elsewhere. Save trees, regardless of where they are.
Do Your Part
The above six ideas represent just a handful of ways you can help the Amazon now and in the future. So, pick the one that speaks to you and contribute ASAP — the Earth will thank you, and so will the people who call the rainforest home.