Cool Earth is a charity that works alongside communities to reduce deforestation and its impact on climate change. Its emphasis on protecting trees, rather than just planting more, is what attracted Karen Sutton, GGA founder.
“Every second, the world loses about one football pitch worth of forest area which means that we are automatically emitting tons of CO2 and losing our greatest protection against climate warming,” says Karen. “It’s essential that the whole world gets behind rainforest protection. It’s one of the most positive things we can do for the sake of wildlife, climate, people and planet.”
Cool Earth works with communities who want to protect their forest. From setting up an in-country team to working directly with communities and local NGOs to develop their capacity, the charity supports local and indigenous knowledge to develop innovative ways to address threats to the forest while making communities stronger and more resilient.
Karen explains how it will work: “So, £10 from every awards entry will go towards sponsoring a tree, which is at risk of logging and deforestation, for a whole year. All entrants will receive a certificate acknowledging their donation.”
Micro businesses – which pay a lower entry fee – will contribute towards the purchase of ‘Wonder Beans’, aka Inga seeds which are a ground-breaking crop in the fight against climate change.
Inga helps improve the fertility of soil, enabling indigenous peoples to grow crops to eat and sell, as well as stopping vast areas of rainforest from being destroyed. “For rainforest communities, it is fast becoming a way to earn a sustainable income that works with the forest, not against it,” adds Karen.
PROTECTION OVER PLANTING – WHY?
Many forest conservation models and climate change mitigation schemes focus on planting or replanting areas of forest. But Cool Earth believes that prevention is better than cure and its core focus is to protect existing trees. Here’s why:
Variety: A single hectare of mature tropical rainforest may contain 480 species of tree. It would be impossible to replant all the ferns, vines and flowers that support the millions of the microbes, fungi, birds and bugs.
Economy: The rainforest provides innumerable economic benefits. 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on rainforest for their livelihoods.
Carbon: An acre of rainforest stores an average of 260 tonnes of carbon. In comparison, a UK conifer plantation grown over 50 years might sequester just 20-40 tonnes of carbon per acre.
People: Voluntarily isolated and uncontacted indigenous people depend on large areas of unspoiled, native forest land to gather the food they need to survive. Their culture and traditions are under threat from forest loss.
Biotic Pump: Research is continuing to highlight the importance of rainforest to the water cycle. Fire damage to the forests of the tropics won’t only affect regional and long distance water transfer, but also the viability of the rainforest that remains, as fire risk goes up with drier conditions.
Time: It takes time for trees to mature and grow into the carbon-storing, animal-homing, soil-protecting wonders that they become. Over time, complex webs of animals and plants and interreliance form. This unique ecosystem is impossible to recreate on a short timescale.
Biodiversity: We are losing around 135 plant, animal and insect species every day due to deforestation. A mature tree in the rainforest is an ecosystem all on its own.
Soil and Replanting: A single spoonful of soil in the rainforest contains 10,000 to 50,000 different types of bacteria. When deforestation happens, the nutrients and bacteria are quickly lost through run-off.
Learn more about Cool Earth’s work here.