02 Dec 2022
A web of life
Forests and biodiversity are essential to life on our planet. A term many of us will be familiar with, biodiversity basically means all the living things in an area forming an interconnected web. Healthy forests rely on its richness. More broadly, these webs and the balance of each of their parts regulate the climate and allow nature, our life support, to either survive or thrive. Biodiversity defines the health of our planet. Unfortunately, just like the climate crisis and just as critical, we’re in the midst of a biodiversity crisis.
Planet under attack
That’s why the over 70 Friends of the Earth organisations that make up Friends of the Earth International have a dedicated work programme for forests and biodiversity. This programme recognises that biodiversity loss is driven by the endless extraction and consumption of an economic system based on endless growth – a system that respects planetary boundaries as little as it does the people who still inhabit areas rich in biodiversity.
Two typical ways in which our forests and biodiversity are destroyed are through the establishment of large plantations to grow the commodities the wealthy world consumes, and through the widespread use of pesticides, which degrade water, soil and biodiversity generally. This is a reality that, to give one example, indigenous peoples living in Brazil are all too familiar with, and is the reason why they’ve come together to challenge the Bolsonaro government with 2 large rallies. We support their coalition.
So what’s the solution?
Just in the way a healthy ecosystem functions, the work of Friends of the Earth International forms a sort of biodiversity of its own. Whether it’s economic justice and resisting neoliberalism, food sovereignty or gender justice and dismantling patriarchy, each work programme overlaps with the others and shares close links. A common thread between them, however, is the empowerment of communities, and forests and biodiversity work is no different.
Together we support the community-based management of nature, which is proven to be more effective than traditional conservation, as well as the vital work of strengthening the rights of communities to defend their territories. 80% of remaining biodiversity-rich areas in the world are inhabited by indigenous peoples. They stand on the frontline against the system tearing up the world we all inhabit. It’s imperative that we support their struggle whenever we can.
Occasionally we get calls to do exactly this – to stand in common cause with allies defending forests (and their homes) around the world. These solidarity calls involve shining spotlights on governments and transnational corporations to compel them to halt their attacks on people and planet. They can be as simple as taking a photo with a message of support or sharing a post on social media, or sometimes they can be more involved.
To amplify our response, we want to build a list of group members and supporters who are ready to take these actions alongside us. If you’d like to join us in answering these calls, please let us know.
Closer to home
Our groups have done wonderful work on nature and trees over the past few years, like Oxford Friends of the Earth which got its council to commit to doubling tree cover, or Portsmouth Friends of the Earth which consulted its community to decide which nature-deprived areas to plant in.
Our groups fight to protect forests too. Darlington Friends of the Earth campaigned to save Skerningham Wood from a council development and the relocation of a golf course. These groups and many others in our network fight hard for the right to a healthy environment.
It's critical we continue this work. Bringing nature back into our societies and defending what we have in the UK is a vital contribution to the Friends of the Earth International family. Let’s continue to do this while standing with communities around the world who do the same. Join us in answering solidarity calls to make sure this happens.