The Impact of Deforestation
Each Summer that goes by, new records are being broken. And not the kind of records that are cause for cheer. The highest ever temperatures seen in parts of Europe were recorded last year. In 2023, Rwanda, South Korea, India, Japan, Turkey and the USA among others – all experienced relentless flooding, catastrophic damage and loss of life. Elsewhere, wildfires have torn through communities, countries, and islands all over the world. In Greece, thousands of people were evacuated away from danger on the island of Rhodes whilst, across an ocean, our friends in Maui were watching the same dangers unfold. The scenes were so devastating in news reports that it was hard to know whether you were watching an update about the Ukrainian war, or the wildfires – so thick with dust and ash was the air, buildings laying in rubble.
Between May and July, clouds of smoke engulfed Toronto and Ottowa, as well as parts of the USA, with the 2023 Canadian wildfire season being the largest and most devastating on record (1). 14 million hectares have been burnt to the ground.
“Scientists have now analyzed the conditions that caused the fires that raged in the Canadian province of Quebec between May and July and found that the climate crisis, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, made them at least twice as likely, and the fire-prone weather at least 20% more intense.” The Guardian
The loss of such a vast amount of biodiversity is hard to contemplate - from the trees and plants in the forest, to the animals and insects that lived there. Then there’s the human cost. Families shattered, communities faced with very real tragedy – grief and loss. For our generation, who grew up educated about the dangers of climate change, fossil fuels and global warming – these events feel like something of a grim inevitability, bolstered as they are by mass consumerism and an ever increasing global population. But we CAN do something, and we must.
We often get asked why Tree Planting is such an integral part of our business at Tentsile. There are hundreds of corporates planting trees now after all, as part of carbon offsetting initiatives which go some way to counterbalancing a company’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. So why is it so central to our values?
The reason we think reforestation and protection of old growth Forest is crucial, is simple. We know that by planting trees we sequester carbon, and at the same time can help dampen soaring global temperatures by protecting the ancient foliage of rainforests and jungles. We also know that the most sustainable way of making meaningful, long term impact, is by supporting alternative livelihoods. We have to work together with communities to stop the deforestation of their environment – whether that’s happened because of natural disasters, rapid urbanisation, or slash and burn practices. That’s why we fund tree planting with our planting partners veritree and EarthLungs in Kenya, by donating 20 trees for each tent of hammock sold in our store. They work in complete collaboration with local citizens to offer training opportunities, and fair wage roles in project deployment such as planting and nursery management. All of the work is informed by the expertise of residents, and goes on to directly contribute to the development of their community. Having a viable and sustainable source of income means that people don’t have to rely on money from selling firewood and charcoal, which in turn preserves the forest. In the coastal planting sites, thriving Mangrove Forests has been restored after years of degradation – fish are becoming more abundant and so food security for an entire community begins to recover. At the Kisumu project in coastal Kenya, a wonderful example of this is how earnings from tree planting helped fund the building of a bridge, giving residents safe passage over the fast flowing river – you can read more about that here.
So far since May 2023 we have funded the planting of 18,750 trees with the Earth Lungs, contributing to our overall planting total of 985,735 trees worldwide since 2013.
One of the great aspects of working with Veritree is that we have greater insight than ever before into the efficacy and impact of the planting work we fund. Each tree planted is recorded methodically using blockchain technology, so it can be accurately counted, verified and continually measured to ensure it thrives. You can find out more about the specific location each or out 18,750 are being planted, here: https://www.veritree.com/impact-hub/tentsile