In a time when we are acutely aware of the long-term impact of modern lifestyles on the planet than ever before, the Norwegian government is setting the standard by being the first country to announce a zero deforestation policy. World leaders take note!
This entails that no government contract shall be awarded to any organization whose activities involve the destruction of trees or forests, including tropical rainforests, which includes the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and timber.
Whilst there are private organizations who follow similar ethical procurement standards, Norway is the first national initiative of this kind.
“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest,” says Nils Hermann Ranum from the Rainforest Foundation Norway. “Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements.”
Imagine if the government of every country in the world made a similar commitment to hold the value of our tree life at such a high priority; it could have a major impact to curb deforestation and the devastation to animal species relying on trees and forests as their natural habitat.
Accessible internet and social media have facilitated a greater understanding of how gravely our futures, and those of our children, depend on forests to sustain us. I like to compare the value of the oxygen we breathe to Wi-Fi—and how ironic it would be if there were a premium to pay for the air we breathe as there is for a decent internet connection!
So, in the grand scheme of things, how much of a difference will this make? On its own, probably not a great deal considering the nation’s relative size. To put that into context, Norway has a GDP of US$399 billion. In comparison, Germany has a GDP of $3.68 trillion; the United Kingdom a GDP of $2.62 trillion; and the USA a GDP of $19.39 trillion.
However, it does offset the fact that Norway remains one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world.
That said, Norway has also committed to selling only electric cars by 2025—so perhaps it should be recognized that a country whose economy has a large investment in fossil fuels is making innovative steps to offset that environmental impact.
What the Norwegian government is doing here is paving the way for other nations to follow suit and introduce their own procurement policies to create a global drive to protect our trees.
Parliament will no longer award government contracts to any company that cuts down and destroys forests.
Clearly, the contribution that Norway is making could be overshadowed thousands of times over if even one other nation, with a higher GDP, took their lead and made the same commitments.
It makes sense that conservation groups are applauding the announcement, but also that the Rainforest Foundation Norway are campaigning for this to be a catalyst for other countries to make the same pledges.
Whether such a commitment makes sense to those larger nations is ultimately a decision left up to those nations.
While the nation of Norway is making headway to prevent deforestation of its trees, one man from Brazil is replanting the forest that he calls home. Read the whole story below:
Brazilian Man Plants 4 Million Saplings Over 20 Years to Reforest His 1,500-Acre Ranch
Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado expected to take refuge in the tropical forest home he knew and loved after returning from covering the horrific Rwandan genocide in 1994. What he found instead was a different sort of horror. The trees were gone. A barren wasteland was all that remained where the forest once stood.
Seeing the destruction of his home environment spurred the Minas Gerais native, along with his wife, Lélia, to replant some 1,502 acres of forest over the next 20 years, restoring his home to its former glory.
“The land was as sick as I was—everything was destroyed,” Salgado told The Guardian in 2015. “Only about 0.5 percent of the land was covered in trees. Then my wife had a fabulous idea to replant this forest. And when we began to do that, then all the insects and birds and fish returned and, thanks to this increase of the trees I, too, was reborn—this was the most important moment.”
The couple hired some 24-plus workers to help replant the forest tree by tree, and many volunteers hoping to help the environment joined in the efforts. Over the course of two decades, they completely transformed the area. The results are breathtaking and surprising. It speaks of what is possible when the earth is cared for with a committed effort.
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The project, which came to be known as Instituto Terra, has planted some 4 million saplings since 1998. Salgado believes it is important to “listen to the words of the people on the land” in order for the forest to flourish. The right types of flora need to be introduced or it will not be successful.
“You need forest with native trees, and you need to gather the seeds in the same region you plant them or the serpents and the termites won’t come,” Salgado explains. “And if you plant forests that don’t belong, the animals don’t come there and the forest is silent.”
Now, the replanted forest is anything but silent. Among the flora and fauna that have repopulated the area, there are 172 species of birds, 33 mammal species, 293 species of plants, 15 reptile species, and 15 amphibian species. The thriving, biodiversity-rich zone was recently declared a Private Natural Heritage Reserve.
The reforestation has also affected the local environment and climate, causing both more rainfall and cooler weather. Tree cover and root systems help to control soil erosion. The revived ecosystem has also revived eight natural springs that had previously dried up, which flow at a rate of 20 liters (approx. 5 gallons) of water per minute, and provide much-needed hydration for the drought-prone region.
It has been called one of the greatest environmental initiatives in the world. It certainly goes a long way to demonstrate to millions of people the vitality of Mother Nature. The right sort of commitment over enough time is all that it takes from us. She will take it from there, and she will surprise us with her powers of creation and rejuvenation.