If you’re like many people, the recent news stories about the fires blazing through the Amazon Rainforest probably left you with some concerns about our planet, deforestation, and what any of us can do to help. So, on this edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles, we’re going to take a deeper dive into deforestation and give you some easy ways you can help out!

Is this your first time getting the Conspiracy Chronicles? If so, welcome! This is Ever Widening Circles’ monthly newsletter celebrating the #ConspiracyofGoodness! In each edition, we focus on a problem the world faces, tell you a little about it, give you a thought leader we love tackling the problem and leave you with some ways you can get involved!

Image: Rain forest Connection founder places a device in a tree that uses an old cellphone to detect illegal logging

The Problem

What does deforestation have to do with the fires in the Amazon?

While fires are often a natural part of forest ecosystems, the majority of fires burning in the Amazon were started by humans. Often, farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to help clear land for crops and livestock. Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef. And a global hunger for cattle and the soybeans that sustain them is driving this uptick in deforestation in the past years. (Vox)

This summer, more forest was cleared in Brazil than in the last three years combined.(National Geographic) Trees are critical to keeping the rainforest ecosystem going. As trees disappear the region gets drier, seeing less rainfall and putting the rainforest at risk of future fires.

Deforestation isn’t an issue limited to the Amazon. Around the world, over half of the tropical forests have been destroyed since the 1960s. (ICUN)

How does deforestation in Brazil or Indonesia have an impact on me?

Forests are carbon sinks, helping to trap greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and regulate the global climate.

The world’s forests absorb one-third of the annual CO2 released from burning fossil fuels. (ICUN)
Tropical forests hold more than seven times the amount of carbon emitted every year by humans. (WWF)
Deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. (WWF)

In addition to helping regulate the climate and providing much-needed water to surrounding areas, 250 million people around the world depend on these forests for their livelihood. And, these ecosystems are home to over 80% of the planet’s terrestrial plant and animal species! (National Geographic)

What can any of us do to protect the planet’s forests? There is hope for the planet’s forests! People are hard at work preserving the forests that still remain and others working to help forests recover. Let’s meet one!

Our Featured Thought Leader Tackling the Problem

Rainforest Connection

Did you know the old cell phone you have shoved in the back of your junk drawer could save the rainforest?

This was the initial, brilliant, premise of the idea behind Rainforest Connection. On a trip to Indonesia, founder Topher White realized that one of the biggest problems in stopping loggers was knowing and hearing where they were. In the remarkably loud landscape of the forest, it is almost impossible to hear chainsaws just tens of meters away.

As it turns, there is relatively good cellular connection at the edges of the forest–where most of the logging occurs. So, using the microphones from old cell phones, Rainforest Connection has created a tool that can listen for chainsaws and alert local authorities and community members to the presence of illegal logging.

Even more remarkably, Topher and his team have been able to use the rich sound data they are collecting to hear loggers before a chainsaw even starts up. By listening to the birds of the forest, their system can detect the presence of intruders in the forest and stop them before they are able to do extensive harm.

Rainforest Connection is a brilliant example of what’s possible when we engage local communities and use the power of the technology at hand to innovate solutions that make the planet better for us all.

Now, Rainforest Connections is protecting forests in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. You can check out more about them on their website and, if you want to help prevent the future deforestation of our planet, you can donate to their efforts!

Simple Things You Can Do!

Shop Smart! Many products currently contribute to the destruction of global forests. Look for products that carry a seal of approval from the Rainforest Alliance or Forest Stewardship Council.

You can also make sure that the palm oil that goes into many of the products we eat and use on a daily basis aren’t contributing to forest destruction because of Palm Oil demand by checking your favorite brands in the WWF’s Palm Oil Scorecard.

Support Organizations Working To Stop Deforestation and Restore Forests! Whether you choose to donate, share their story with your friends on social media, or send out a tweet of support, your voice counts! Rainforest Connection is a great place to start! (Here’s their Twitter) Or if you want to support education programs and an approach to replanting forests, check out Community Forests International.

Support legislation around the world to protect forests! In many places, the best way to preserve forests is to protect them through legislation. By supporting organizations like the WWF, you can work towards ensuring that forests are protected and better managed around the globe!

Keep up with the community!

Tell us how you’re helping stop deforestation this month! Send us a picture of the products you’re buying that are Rainforest Alliance Certified. Share your tweets, posts, and letters to local authorities with us! And make sure you shout out the people you know who are hard at work on the ground!

Follow Ever Widening Circles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where we’ll be sharing more information about organizations fighting global deforestation!

Finally, join the #ConspiracyofGoodness Facebook Group to see what other people are up to and share inspiration you come across.

Follow more from #ConspiracyofGoodness!

Every month we put out an edition of the Conspiracy Chronicles. It’s our newsletter that explores a major issue the world faces, and introduces you to one of the thought leaders tackling the problem! Along the way, we also share some great tips with you on how you can make a difference too!

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Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and the COO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV