The Atlantic Forest in the Amazon is in danger. It’s currently 7% of its original size. In response to this environmental crisis, the Nature Conservancy set up their Plant a Billion Trees Campaign. The Atlantic Forest provides clean energy sources, like water, for about 120 million people in Brazil and is home to 23 species of primates, more than 1,000 species of birds and more than 20,000 plant species. Clearly there’s a real need to restore the Atlantic Forest. The Plant a Billion Trees Campaign is an ambitious endeavor. They aim to plant 1 billion trees in 7 years, which means that they have to plant about 142 million trees every year, or about 400 trees a day. Clearly, they’ve got their work cut out for them. If you want to help, it’s simple. For every dollar that you donate, one tree is planted. So if you donate three dollars, three trees are planted. If you donate 50 dollars, 50 trees are planted. You can choose to either donate dollars on behalf of yourself or you can donate a gift on behalf of someone else.
The Nature Conservancy chose the ice cream bean tree as the tree to plant in their Plant a Billion Trees Campaign. It is native to the region, grows quickly and produces edible fruit. They plan to plant 1 billion of them by 2015 and they’ve already planted more than 5 million ice cream bean trees. In the end, the Nature Conservancy will have restored 30 million acres and the new trees will sequester 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is about the equivalent of removing 2 million cars from the roads.
Clearly, what the Nature Conservancy is doing is great. However, some environmentalists wonder how much of an effect it will have in the end. Brazil is rapidly depleting the Amazon rainforest in an effort to develop and meet basic needs. 2.7 million acres of the Amazon rainforest are destroyed every year in Brazil. Almost 20% of the Amazon rainforest has already been destroyed due to Brazil’s logging and development efforts. If deforestation continues, the Amazon rainforest will likely become non-existent within your lifetime.
Many experts attest to a very strong correlation between environmental stewardship and poverty levels. If someone is trying to feed their hungry children, they’re not going to care much about the tree that they’re cutting down to do so. In contrast, the majority of Americans no longer worry about going hungry, so they are able to spend their time and energy on other endeavors, like environmental stewardship and protection.
Until Brazil has achieved development and a better financial situation, they will most likely continue to use the Amazon as their source of income. The Nature Conservancy is trying to combat this, and they are succeeding in replacing the trees that locals are cutting down to survive. In the end, EnviroCitizen.org believes that what the Nature Conservancy is doing may be what will save this integral part of our global ecosystem after all.