Cool Earth was born right at the moment that small-scale deforestation began to become a problem. Back in 2007, little attention was paid by conservation groups to the crucial role that local people play in determining the future of rainforest. Cool Earth’s pioneering approach is to work solely with local communities: those that have the most to lose from rainforest devastation.
The success of the environmental movement
Campaigns to limit industrial-scale deforestation are the success story from the environmental movement over the last ten years, reflected in a big reduction in clear-cutting. Corporates have cleaned up their act, and legislation has been introduced at government and global level. When it comes to rainforest loss, bigger obviously isn’t better. But it’s what we have been used to.
You might think that this means overall levels of deforestation are falling too. But sadly, they’re still rising. The difference is rapid growth in small-scale logging and degradation. Now, it’s the smaller areas of destruction that are having the greatest impact. And conservation is having to adapt. Deforestation is now characterised by small, fragmented clearings less than 25 hectares in size. And unlike the international drivers of clear-cutting, illegal logging, mining and slash and burn are difficult to fight.
The answer to bulldozers lay in boardrooms. The answer to machetes is on the ground. In most cases, small-scale deforestation is driven by poverty. When a community’s only asset is its trees, there are few choices when emergency funding is needed. Cool Earth exists to offer an alternative.
An ambitious mission
By working to develop sustainable incomes from the forest, trees suddenly become more valuable with their roots in the ground. This is what Cool Earth has done and will continue to do until tropical deforestation and degradation plays no part in climate change. It’s an ambitious mission, but it’s working. Empowered households, villages and communities are able to stop small-scale rainforest destruction. They just need a helping hand.