9 June 2021 • ACTUALITÉS
Planète Urgence celebrates World Environment Day
In a virtual speech at the One Planet Summit in support of biodiversity, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared “2021 the year of humanity’s reconciliation with Nature”.
For 20 years, Planète Urgence has been working concretely on this reconciliation with local projects serving weakened human and natural ecosystems.
However, the particular year that we have all just experienced raises questions about the priority actions to be taken to accelerate this reconciliation. Where are we globally on this link between Humanity and Nature? How should the current situation alert us to the impact of forest destruction on humans?
As World Environment Day is celebrated around the world on June 5, Planète Urgence wishes to return to the subject and show that preserving forests also means preserving humans!
Forests: ecosystems essential to the daily lives of humans
In 2020, tropical forests lost 12.2 million hectares (including 4.2 million primary rainforests), i.e. 12% more than in 2019 (FAO, report published on March 31, 2021). However, forests are essential to our lives since they play a key ecological role in regulating the climate, water and soil. They are also important resources for populations and, more broadly, for all of humanity, since forests contribute to human well-being!
We all now know that deforestation is a scourge for the environment and has consequences for human life. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of conserving forests, especially tropical ones. Humanity has thus become aware that the health of populations is intrinsically linked to the health of ecosystems.
The consequences of deforestation on humans
“Many scientific studies demonstrate the importance of forests for climate regulation, […] and thus [their contribution] to human health and well-being.
Yet, deforestation continues in many countries and its impact is very noticeable for planetary health. The scientific work is alarming. »
If forests must be protected, it is also to preserve the irreplaceable biodiversity of animal and plant species that they shelter, as well as the women and men who depend on them.
1/3 of the world’s population today uses wood and natural resources from forests for their basic needs (construction, cooking, heating, income-generating activities, etc.). Deforestation therefore threatens the lives of entire communities, their ancestral territories, the nature and ecosystem services on which they depend, and the traditional knowledge they hold. We are talking about a real defaunation of certain forest ecosystems, when it is not their disappearance by the combined effects of intensive, extractive and industrial agriculture.
The IPBES 2019, WWF Living Planet 2020, and FAO Forests 2020 reports show that we have reached a critical point in the regeneration of both natural forests and biodiversity. The ways of life, cultures and knowledge of traditional and indigenous societies are also seriously threatened by this great acceleration of globalized extractive activities.
To find out more about the consequences of deforestation on humans and in particular on their health, go to this article, transcribing the exceptional interview that expert Serge Morand gave to Planète Urgence.
The actions of Planète Urgence on the preservation, restoration and enhancement of forests is all the more important in times of pandemic
Planète Urgence works directly with local partners and provides field expertise in connection with national and local public policies.
Environment & Development projects are carried out in areas where the challenges in terms of climate change, biodiversity, deforestation and human development are particularly high, where rural communities have a real need related to the forest, where access is possible in terms of security, and where collaboration is possible with the authorities. There are thus 3 strategic countries, classified among the most deforested countries in the world (Global Forest Watch, 2019 and 2020) in which Planète Urgence operates, namely: Indonesia, Madagascar and Cameroon.
The health crisis that has resulted from the emergence of COVID-19 and its spread around the world has been particularly trying for civil society organizations. The local partners of Planète Urgence, on the front line in the fight against inequalities and the destruction of the environment, have been strongly affected. This is the case, for example, in Madagascar, where communities no longer had the right to resell their surplus production in local markets that were closed during the general confinement on the island between March and April 2020. Losses of income have encouraged the most vulnerable people to use nearby forest resources to meet their needs. The tapia forests were thus particularly overexploited during this period.
“During the COVID-19 health crisis, and in particular following the declared confinement in Madagascar, the illicit exploitation of tapia intensified. Indeed, the inhabitants, due to the closure of the markets, could not resell their surplus production, nor the natural resources from this tree (seeds, fruits, mushrooms, etc.). Lacking these resources and income, some members massively cut tapia forests to make more charcoal.
When the Planète Urgence teams identified the remaining Tapia forests and compared the wooded areas with the figures for 2000 or even 2010, the result was clear: the disappearance of the Tapia forest accelerated sharply with the COVID-19 crisis. The VOIs (members of local communities), in charge of the protection of forests locally, are now aware of the challenge of preserving this endemic tree and Planète Urgence is determined to strengthen the capacities of VOIs, municipalities and forest administrations to preserve these essential ecosystems.”
Thierry RABENANDRO, Environment & Development Program Manager in Madagascar
It is thus understood that forests are essential to the climatic balance and that they must be preserved at all costs. You can help Planète Urgence and support the association in its mission to preserve forests and local development by making a donation!
A big thank you to all for your commitment alongside Planète Urgence!