rainforest

Sumatra's jungle

The rainforest is buzzing, orange creatures can be seen climbing in the treetops and colorful birds show off their singing skills. But if we carry on as before, the jungle will soon fall silent.

RAINWOODS

The green lungs of our planet

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Along the equator, the tropical rainforests stretch across the entire globe. Rainforests. Our most important forests.

As well as harboring countless species, they remove harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is not for nothing that the rainforests are referred to as the “green lungs” of our planet. But how does this effect come about?
This is due to the prevailing tropical climatic conditions. Constantly warm temperatures and frequent rainfall favor evergreen plant growth and thus increase the photosynthesis rate. This allows significantly more CO2 to be extracted from the atmosphere and stored in the plants. Vital from today’s perspective. Humans are pumping more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing oversaturation. Originally reflected sun rays are stopped and can no longer leave our atmosphere. The result is that our planet is warming up.
The rainforests therefore make an immense contribution to drastically reducing global warming.

Forests also have a positive and important effect on the regional climate.

Tropical trees absorb water through their roots and channel it to the uppermost leaves. The water evaporates there due to the high solar radiation at the equator and clouds form. Without these clouds, the rainforest would not be able to supply itself with sufficient water and would not be able to release enough moisture into the atmosphere. Dry regions in particular could then not be supplied with vital rainfall.

A unique cycle.

The tropical forests’ own water cycle attracts many different creatures, because water is vital for all of them. This is why more than half of all known species are found in rainforests. This is despite the fact that rainforests only make up 3% of the entire planet. It is precisely with such a high diversity of species in such a small space that a complex ecosystem is created. Each species fulfills its own function. If a species dies out, individual cycles can no longer function. This has repercussions for people.

In addition to the survival of our ecosystems, this high level of biodiversity also has other benefits. On the one hand, science has been making use of the rich biodiversity of the rainforests for thousands of years, for example to produce vital medicines. On the other hand, species-rich forests can store significantly more carbon than those with fewer species.

Rainforest in Indonesia

Indonesia has the third largest area of rainforests in the world.

Indonesia’s national parks cover around 80 million hectares, roughly twice the size of Germany.

One of these is the Leuser ecosystem, where our recycling village is being created. This high proportion of tropical forests makes Indonesia one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Many unique species find a home here. The four large mammals rhinoceros, elephant, tiger and orangutan are found together nowhere else on earth.
It is therefore not without reason that Indonesia is considered to play an important role in our ecosystem and therefore also in carbon storage.

But other special features of Indonesia also ensure immense carbon storage: the diversity of the tropical forests. From the peat swamp forests in the interior to the coastal mangrove forests, gigantic carbon sinks have been created over the years.

A country like Indonesia is therefore of unspeakable value to mankind. We need this intact ecosystem with its diversity and also its immense carbon sinks to survive. Indonesia’s forests must be protected from extinction!

THREATS TO THE RAINFOREST

Consumption

Not only is the entire world population increasing, but our standard of living is also demanding more and more. We need ever larger quantities of raw materials and resources. In short, we need to produce and extract more in order to meet this immense demand. This is a huge challenge that we are facing. This is where the rainforest comes in handy: sufficient space, great conditions for plant growth and countless valuable resources provide the necessary masses. But at what price?

Palm oil

The price is clearly defined for the economy. In the rainforest, crops used in everyday products can be grown very efficiently, on a large scale and at low cost. The most popular method is so-called monocultures.  Gigantic plantations with the aim of cultivating a plant species as profitably as possible. Each tropical region specializes in the extraction of certain raw materials. In Indonesia, this is mainly palm oil. Today, many gigantic palm oil plantations sit enthroned in Indonesia’s species-rich rainforests, making Indonesia the world’s largest exporter of palm oil. But the rainforest is not only used for agricultural purposes. Our consumption also needs its valuable treasures. In addition to the robust tropical wood, there are also all kinds of things in the floor that we are after.

Deforestation

We completely disregard nature. In order to create arable land that can be planted first, or to access the mineral resources, the land has to be cleared. The previous vegetation is then uprooted along with its roots. A popular and particularly fast method is slash-and-burn. Areas are then set on fire until there is nothing left. However, the carbon originally stored in the plants and soil is released in the form of CO2. As a result, Indonesia in particular is one of the world’s biggest emitters due to the world’s highest rate of deforestation. The clearing of the rainforests is therefore actively causing our planet to warm up at an increasing rate.

Devastation

In addition to global warming, deforestation also has other effects. On the one hand, the rainforest is losing its vital vegetation. Our own water cycle is disrupted and too little moisture is released into our atmosphere. This is causing desert regions to expand worldwide. Soils are becoming infertile and countless regions uninhabitable.

Species extinction

On the other hand, clearing causes thousands and thousands of species to become extinct and lose their habitat. Without appropriate biodiversity, our ecosystems and thus global food production are in extreme danger. If we can no longer produce enough, we cannot feed ourselves sufficiently. The price that people pay is therefore also clearly defined. If we lose the rainforest and its internal cycles, we lose our livelihood. All the effects of cutting down the rainforest mean that our lives on this earth are hanging by a thread.

Hope

We can still do something about it! Species extinction in particular is mainly driven by our food production. As consumers, we can therefore change our consumption behavior and pay attention to what we eat and what we buy. Even if our consumer behavior is the driving force behind deforestation, the blame lies with those who only have profit in mind in order to meet our demand.

RECOVERY

TREES PLANTS

Due to the massive deforestation of the last 50 years, both herbivores and carnivores are finding less and less food. If there is too little food available, the populations of the Sumatran tiger or the orangutan will still not be able to recover.

In order to restore this delicate balance within the ecosystem, we are planting thousands of fruit trees – especially in the “buffer zone” border area.

In this way, we strengthen biodiversity, create valuable habitat and food for animals and at the same time give people the opportunity to generate additional income from the trees’ yields.

In the long term, we would like to reduce the new planting of additional oil palms in this way. We organize large reforestation campaigns and show young people in particular simple ways in which we can do something good for our planet.

That’s not it yet!

What else are we doing for the rainforest?

Ranger Patrol

Our rangers ensure peaceful coexistence between humans and animals.

Clean Up

A clean forest is a happy forest!

Environmental education

When children and adults learn to treat the sensitive ecosystem with care, the forest is happy!

Sustainable agriculture

Promoting and spreading sustainable agriculture conserves water and soil.

Which rainforests are there?

There is not just one jungle. Rainforests are basically divided into two types. There are temperate and tropical rainforests. All rainforests near the equator are referred to as tropical rainforests. It is warm here all year round. Temperate ones are located further away from the equator and are mostly in cool coastal regions.

The best-known rainforest is the Amazon in South America. But there is also a gigantic jungle on the African continent: the Congo Basin. And which region are we focusing on?

Our project is located at Gunung Leuser National Park. It sits enthroned in the heart of Sumatra, the largest Indonesian island. Here you will find the second largest biodiversity in the world. The entire rainforest in Indonesia is 2.5 times the size of Germany.

But why the destruction of the rainforest?

It is not without reason that the rainforests are also known as the “treasure troves” of our planet. Here, mineral resources are extracted, dams are built to generate energy and tropical timber is used to make furniture or paper.
Hardly any other soil is as rich in nutrients as that of tropical forests. The tropical climate allows diversity to grow. Billions of microorganisms and fungi decompose the organic material, such as leaves, excrement or wood. (Almost) everything grows on these soils!
This has also spread internationally. This is because such nutrient-rich soils are perfect for planting monocultures.


Why is the rainforest so important?

If we look at the total area of all rainforests, we arrive at seven percent of the land mass. This small area is home to around 80 percent of all animal and plant species living on land. We must protect such a precious ecosystem!
The trees, soil and plants store a lot of CO2 (carbon dioxide). It is estimated that one tree from the rainforest can store as much CO2 as 59 people in Germany produce each year. This process produces oxygen, which we need to live. In this way, it stabilizes the climate.
Science is also interested in this treasure trove. Indigenous peoples use the forest as their pharmacy. The valuable knowledge about the effects of plants can now also be found outside the forests. Every eighth drug on the market contains active ingredients from the jungle.
As great as the wonders of the tropical forests are, this overall system is just as fragile. The connections between living beings and nature must not be disturbed. The smallest changes in the system are dangerous. Not just for the animals. Also for humans.

What is a monoculture?

If you always grow the same plant in the same area, you have a monoculture. There is hardly any variety here. Wildlife finds no protection and no food in such monoculture plantations. The habitat is destroyed.
In Brazil, soy is mostly grown as a monoculture. And Amazon rainforest has to make way for cultivation. If you now think that all the soy is used for tofu and plant-based substitute products: That only makes up six percent. This figure relates to global production. 75 percent of the world’s soy is used to feed livestock.
Southeast Asia is considered a production center for palm oil. Anyone who has been to Indonesia knows the large oil palms. Long, sharp thorns on the leaves make it impossible for the orangutan to move through the palm trees.

Who is cutting down the rainforest?

Rainforest deforestation is not “just” a climate killer. The clearing also destroys the surrounding and intact areas. (see picture) As soon as a section is felled, the remaining forests are at risk of drying out. Due to the loss of forests, more and more creatures are dying out over time. Some species only exist in a small area and are disappearing due to deforestation.

Where is palm oil in it?

In the EU, 53 percent of the high-yield oil of the oil palm is used for the production of biodiesel. Food (e.g. Nutella), but also chemicals (e.g. cleaning agents) use 35 percent. This is how the rainforest ends up on our plates and in our tanks. A further twelve percent is used for energy and heat generation.