Forests are essential for life on earth. Three hundred million people worldwide live in forests and 1.6 billion depend on them for their livelihoods. Forests also provide habitat for a vast array of plants and animals, many of which are still undiscovered. They protect our watersheds. They inspire wonder and provide places for recreation. They supply the oxygen we need to survive.
They provide the timber for products we use every day. Forests are so much more than a collection of trees. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. These ecosystems are complex webs of organisms that include plants, animals, fungi and bacteria
Forests take many forms, depending on their latitude, local soil, rainfall and prevailing temperatures. Coniferous forests are dominated by cone-bearing trees, like pines and firs that can thrive in northern latitudes where these forests are often found. Many temperate forests house both coniferous and broad-leafed trees, such as oaks and elms, which can turn beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red in the fall.
The most biologically diverse and complex forests on earth are tropical rainforests, where rainfall is abundant and temperatures are always warm. Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns.
But forests are being destroyed and degraded at alarming rates. Deforestation comes in many forms, including fires, clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber, and degradation due to climate change. This impacts people’s livelihoods and threatens a wide range of plant and animal species. Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate—18.7 million acres of forests are lost annually, equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute.
The Amazon, the planet’s largest rainforest, lost at least 17% of its forest cover in the last half-century due to human activity. In Indonesia, the island of Sumatra has lost 85% of its forests—primarily due to conversion for oil palm and pulp plantations—and a similar level of destruction is taking place on the island of Borneo. Deforestation also undermines the important carbon sink function of forests. It is estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation.
Humanity cannot live in a world of polluted air and water, empty seas, vanishing wildlife, and denuded lands. The ecological challenges we now face are matters of public health and welfare. The challenges our planet faces are huge and growing fast; from climate change and biodiversity destruction our world is at risk in many ways.
Our mission is to be an international network of NGOs focused on helping companies, producers and donors to move forward with their sustainability agenda in a practical and efficient way. We build up a global and local network to transform agriculture into a sustainable activity. We are a powerful and effective ally to achieve and monitor goals, to transform agricultural practices and to create value on the ground. With experience of a network supported by local experts the Alpha Academy provides innovative, practical and credible agricultural solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and social problems of our time. Our goal is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle to build a healthy, sustainable environment, and protect the Earth for future generations.
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