Throughout the world’s rainforests the greatest losses in cover have been due to the clearing of land for agriculture, in particular for ‘cash crops’ grown in large plantations. These plantations are often controlled by foreign multinational companies with few of the profits going to the growers. Producer countries are also adversely affected by trade barriers, set up to protect the industries of the wealthier countries. As a result of the huge rise in worldwide demand, large areas of forest have been cleared in recent years to plant coffee trees. This has particularly happened in Vietnam, where vast tracts have been cut down and low-grade coffee has flooded the market, reducing the price that can be obtained by the growers and bankrupting the smaller farmers in Latin America. At the present time, vast areas of the Amazon rainforest are being converted into soyabean plantations, to provide animal feed for European and other markets.
What can we do?
In recent years there have been initiatives to improve the income of coffee, banana and cocoa growers, and at the same reduce the further loss of the forests by encouraging the use of more sustainable methods of farming. One of these is the ‘Fair Trade’ movement which allows a fairer return to the growers for their work, and enables them to farm in a more sustainable way so that their future is more secure. Buying these products directly helps people living near the rainforests to gain a better livelihood, thus reducing the need to cut further trees to earn a living. In addition you can also buy ‘bird friendly coffee’ which has been grown under the canopy. The Living Rainforest sells shade-grown, Rainforest-Alliance-certified coffee from El Salvador in its shop and cafe. It may be slightly more expensive but it is the best- flavoured coffee, so you get an excellent cup of coffee and help conserve the rainforest at the same time. Acting in a sustainable way need not necessarily lead to a loss in living standards!
Subscribe to our newsletters
Enter your email address in the box provided to sign up for free email updates
About our charity
Learn more about the work done by The Trust for Sustainable Living... Read more