Forest Heroes is a global effort to protect the Earth’s forests and climate, as well as the wildlife and human communities that rely upon them. We are building a powerful global movement to break the link between agriculture and deforestation to ensure a living future for the world’s forests.
We bring together some of the world’s leading advocacy organizations, scientists, governments, and private sector leaders dedicated to making a real difference. The world’s forests are in a state of emergency, and the Forest Heroes campaign is working to meet this challenge head on.
Unsustainable global agriculture is eating up the world’s forests. Farmland has expanded to cover over 40 percent of the Earth’s landmass. But it has been at the expense of carbon-rich forests, diverse ecosystems and local communities. Our planet’s natural forests are quickly being replaced by large monoculture fields, plantations of soybeans, palm, sugar cane, cattle pasture and other commodities often destined for international markets. Today, commercial agriculture drives 71 percent of all tropical deforestation.
The impacts of forest destruction are devastating for all. Clearing and burning the world’s forests sends more climate pollution into the atmosphere every year than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined. The associated loss of natural habitat is driving tigers, elephants, orangutans, rhinoceroses, jaguars and other wildlife to the brink of extinction. Too often, local and indigenous communities that rely on the forest for their livelihoods are being marginalized and pushed off the land. These trends are unsustainable in every way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way – the Forest Heroes campaign is proving that transformative change is possible now. We know that companies, governments and local farmers can feed the world without clearing precious forests and trampling human rights. Researchers have identified 309 million acres of land that we can use for new farmland without cutting down additional tropical forests. Shifting agriculture away from continued deforestation would avoid 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, about the same as the climate pollution released annually by all the world’s coal-fired power plants.
We’re already beginning to see this transformation take hold. In Brazil, where deforestation has been rampant for decades, major agribusinesses have partnered with the government and worked with civil society to help reduce deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 70 percent in the last decade. In just the past two years, many of the world’s largest traders and users of palm oil — one of the largest drivers of forest loss in Southeast Asia — have responded to consumer and investor pressure by committing to eliminate deforestation, carbon-rich peatland development and human exploitation from their supply chains. Household brands like Kellogg’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Unilever and others have signed zero-deforestation policies for palm oil, which is catalyzing change from global traders to the farmers on the ground. Increasingly, companies are committing to eliminating deforestation from all agricultural commodities, including soy, beef, sugar, coffee, paper and more.
This is a dramatic shift from business-as-usual, and it’s giving the world’s forests — and all of us — a fighting chance.
We know that people have the power to change the world for the better, because we’ve seen it happen time and time again. This work is only possible through the passion, creativity and dedication of Forests Heroes activists and partners around the world that are taking action every day for forests, wildlife, local communities and the climate. The world’s forests can’t wait any longer, and we can’t do it without you.