The impacts of deforestation | Leverage ReFi, GreenTech, and collaboration for regeneration needed to maintain our planet’s ecological balance
What are the Planetary Boundaries?
The planetary boundaries concept presents a set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. In September 2023, a team of scientists quantified all nine dimensions that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system. Crossing boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes, and therefore, consequences such as flooding, drought, erosion, storms, and more, which have already begun. By now, in 2023, six of the nine boundaries have been transgressed.
The boundaries encompass:
→ Climate Change
→ Ocean Acidification
→ Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
→ Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycles
→ Freshwater Use
→ Land-System Change
→ Biodiversity Loss
→ Atmospheric Aerosol Loading
→ Chemical Pollution
Image: Our ecosystem reaching Earth's Limits explained graphically.
Deep dive into Land-System Change
Land-System Change, refers to the modification & transformation of the natural landscape primarily driven by human actions.
→ This is ranging from local landowners to national land use planning, and global trade agreements.
According to experts, we've breached this boundary's safe limits. Although, drastic changes will not necessarily happen overnight, they can significantly escalate (climate change) risking a domino effect of climate instability that could disrupt multiple ecosystems.
The three major forest biomes—tropical, temperate, and boreal—based on their locations, each play unique roles
Tropical forests, found near the equator, are biodiversity hotspots and crucial carbon sinks, influence global weather patterns. With their dense vegetation, they are powerhouses of transpiration, releasing vast amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere.
Temperate forests, located in mild climate zones, between the tropics and polar regions, act as critical carbon stores and support a diverse range of wildlife. They contribute to the water cycle through interception, where trees catch and store rainfall, later releasing it into the atmosphere or into the ground, thus regulating river flows and groundwater levels. They are essential for regional water cycles and soil conservation.
Boreal forests, or taigas, encircle the high northern latitudes and are the world's largest land biome, serving as a significant store for carbon. Despite their colder climates and less diverse flora, they also participate in the water cycle by trapping snow and rain, which filters into the soil and influences the timing and magnitude of water flow into rivers and lakes.
Forests are at the heart of this Land-System boundary.
They help stabilize the climate, host biodiversity, nutrients, maintain water cycles, protect against flooding, drought, erosion, and sustain communities.
→ Yet, we've lost 35% of global forests in 3 centuries. Out of the 65% of those that have survived, 82% have been compromised by human activity.
→ In 2022 alone, deforestation surged by 10%, an area the size of Switzerland is gone, at a rate of 11 football fields per minute.
→ This loss impacts everything from weather, biodiversity, drinkable water, farming, food supply, the economy at a global scale, to our very existence.
→ 50-80% of Amazon moisture remains in the ecosystem’s water cycle. When forests are cut down, less moisture goes into the atmosphere and rainfall declines, leading to drought. The remaining water not being absorbed due to the absence of trees leads to flood, and soils are quickly washed away, leading to erosion.
To summarize the significant services of forests:
While most of us are ignorant of our ancestors' wisdom, there is a minority who can teach us more about it.
Indigenous peoples as Guardians of Land
→ They are about 5% of the global population, and safeguard 80% of biodiversity. Their knowledge is vital, yet they need global collaboration to succeed.
→ Traditional Knowledge Indigenous people do have a deep understanding of their local ecosystems, often utilizing plants for medicinal purposes and sustainable agriculture practices.
→ Sustainable Living: they live regularly in harmony with nature and environmental respect.
→ Legal Precedents: some Indigenous communities have won legal battles to protect their lands, setting precedents that can be followed globally.
→ Long-term Ecosystem Monitoring, especially in remote or hard-to-reach areas,
→ Governing processes, members participation, collaboration, and mutual support
→ The Seven Generation Principle:
→ Ironically, the U.S., a country often criticized for its consumerism and influences, was once the main home to the Haudenosaunee, (also known as Iroquois) meaning “people who are building the longhouse”, or Native Americans, whose foundation relied on the “Seven Generation Principle” which teaches us to consider the impact of our actions on the future of 7 (seven) generations to come. How have we missed that?
“We now do crown you with the sacred emblem of the deer's antlers, the emblem of your Lordship. You shall now become a mentor of the people of the Five Nations. The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans—which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions, and criticism…. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground—the unborn of the future Nation.” - Race and Ethnicity in America: From Pre-Contact to the Present.
Modern Technology also plays a major role to achieve our goal.
The Role of Innovation
An example for innovative technologies with a large impact are referred to as dMRV services (Digital Measurement, Reporting, & Verification) solutions. These include laser scanners, Satellite Imagery & Remote Sensing, IoT (Internet of Things), Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Clouds, and more.
With these tools we can achieve accurate measurements, real-time monitoring, efficiency & accountability, long term cost reduction, data-driven decision-making, and vast information processing for patterns, trends and more. Other technologies include DLT (Distributed-Ledger-Technologie) & Blockchain, offering traceability & integrity for Nature & Tech-Based Solutions, as well as in other sectors like construction, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, and more.
The Importance of Collaboration is key
Global collaboration has proven to be successful in the past: countries have manage to heal the ozone layer, through a ban of ozone depleting substances, proving that global teamwork can fix our mistakes. This success story gives us hope that we can also tackle land use change and other critical planetary boundaries to create a sustainable future.
It is high time to realign nature and humanity, to channel our energies towards collective well-being, not ego, competition, or rivalry. There is little time, but ample room for everyone to contribute to a sustainable earth for all. On a global scale, collaborating and taking responsible actions for the benefit of others and the planet, ultimately serves our own well-being.
Thank you for getting up to here. There is more to come. Down the #rabbithole, are you in?
X-iO → en español ▸ #5— Una inmersión profunda en los límites de la Tierra