How To Save Rainforests (& Reverse Deforestation & Declining Canopy Cover)

How To Save Rainforests (& Reverse Deforestation & Declining Canopy Cover)

Rainforests and tropical rainforests in particular contain the highest concentrations of biodiversity on Earth (far more than man made forests and tree plantations).

Rainforests also contain many benefits for humans, the economy, and the environment & wildlife.

It is therefore in our extreme interest to save them.

This guide outlines how to save rainforests, and reverse deforestation and declining canopy cover, on both the society wide level, and on the individual level.


Summary – Saving Rainforests 

  • There’s two approaches that can be taken – an individual approach, and a society wide approach
  • Individual approaches can entail supporting products and companies that don’t use resources that have an origin from rainforests or rainforest land that was cleared 
  • A society wide approach that can be effective is either giving legal and land rights to local communities to manage rainforest lands themselves (as they will naturally care for resources they depend on for their living), or have programs that give economic incentive to countries and local populations to preserve rainforests
  • As long as rainforests are economically worth more to cut down than to leave standing or conserve, deforestation will be a big threat


The Problem With Rainforest (& Tropical Rainforest) Destruction & Deforestation

  • Rainforests contain heavy concentrations of biodiversity
  • Rainforests can provide many benefits to society and the environment when they are left standing
  • But, they tend to be worth more to cut down, and tend to be located in poorer regions of the world where local populations need the money to survive, and local corruption and foreign corporate advancement are also common (
  • Globally, tropical tree canopy loss has almost doubled over the past decade (
  • Rainforests can take far longer to be restored than man made forests and tree plantations, and sometimes never return to their original condition


How To Save Rainforests, & Reverse Deforestation, & Declining Canopy Cover

These are some of the main steps we have synthesised and paraphrased from a article, that outlines steps that Costa Rica took to bring deforestation to zero, and increase canopy cover:

  • Restrict the number of logging permits
  • Create a national forestry commission to police forest activity
  • Introduce a system of payments for environmental services … to help reduce poverty, especially in poor rural areas
  • Introduce a National Forestry Fund to provide landowners per-acre financial incentives to conserve their land and prevent it degrading, which can lead to improved land management and reforestation. Individuals and entire communities benefit from the fund via jobs and income. A fund can be financed by foreign investment and loans, as well as internal revenues from fossil fuel taxation.
  • General safeguarding of rainforests by policy makers – especially to secondary rainforests
  • Focus on both natural forests and man made forests
  • Understand that human land clearance for agriculture is the key driver of large-scale deforestation
  • Understand that climate change might cause accelerated deforestation



  • Communities with rights to resources conserve those resources; communities without rights have no reason to conserve… and deforestation will ensue
  • If you want to stop deforestation, give legal rights to [local] communities for these forests [as history has shown they manage them sustainably]
  • Indigenous communities such as Brazil’s Kayapo have kept deforestation rates “close to zero” in some instances
  • One problem being faced is that under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism, carbon sinks and carbon credits are being sold off to companies in the name of conservation – but this money isn’t going to locals as the legal, logistical and scientific barriers are too high. Governments don’t help out local populations either. Governments with international environment groups and corporations are the ones usually profiting from it
  • A sizable example of this happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also in other areas in the world
  • The above approach is a double win, as locals can still make an income, and forests can better be managed and sustainably preserved



  • [Poor and local populations often depend on rainforests to make a living]
  • [Subsistence farming, logging and clearing for agriculture are the main reasons for deforestation]
  • [Commercial and industrial agriculture and logging can be hard to turn down for poor countries]
  • Closing or or fencing off rainforests doesn’t work
  • What can work to reduce deforestation is …
  • Sufficient economic incentives for respecting and maintaining the forest. Rainforests will only continue to survive as functional ecosystems if they can be shown to provide tangible economic benefits
  • [Give poor farmers a sustainable way to make a living that doesn’t involve destruction of rainforests]
  • [Make more productive and sustainable use of the land already cleared and being farmed … instead of clearing new forest land]
  • Funding rainforest conservation efforts via payments for ecosystem services, commodity roundtables, eco tourism, bio-prospecting fees, corporate sponsorship
  • Once funding is in place, these steps can be taken – expand protected areas, increase surveillance of and patrols of protected areas, build research facilities for training local scientists and guides, establish programs that promote sustainable use, compensate displaced people, ensure economic success is decoupled from deforestation, encourage other forms of employment and entrepreneurship
  • In order for the forest to be preserved, the underlying social, economic, and political reasons for deforestation must be recognized and addressed. 



Individuals can take the following steps to help save rainforests:

  • Reduce paper and wood consumption … and try to buy recycled or alternative plant fibre products instead (like bamboo)
  • Reduce oil consumption (helps address deforestation)
  • Reduce beef consumption (helps address land clearing for agriculture)
  • Hold businesses accountable – support companies that support rainforests, and stop buying from those who don’t
  • Invest in rainforest communities such as RAN’s Protect-an-Acre Program
  • Join a local forest preservation group
  • Support Rainforest Action Network



Individuals can take the following steps to help save rainforests:

  • Support organisations that work to save global rainforests through incentive-based initiatives, education and conservation programs
  • Try to stay away from palm oil products









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