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At EarthX, we believe that trees are the answer. Trees provide oxygen, biodiversity, shade on a hot day, and absorb carbon. 18 million acres of forests are lost annually (according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization) which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute. From temperate to tropical forests, almost all types of trees are under threat of deforestation and attack. Here are three ways they’re being attacked:

1. Housing. Deforestation is a major result of making space for more housing and urbanization.

2. Consumer Products. Trees are used for the production of highly demanded commercial consumer items such as paper, furniture, and homes. They are also removed to clear room to grow other products, such as palm oil. Palm oil is predominantly produced in Indonesia which is a more carbon-rich area, so when trees are cut down there, the effects are even more destructive to the environment.

3. Cattle. Another prominent cause for cutting cut down trees is to provide room for cattle ranching. According to One Green Planet, an estimated 70% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest can be attributed to cattle ranching.

Some logging operations are legal and others are not. Regardless, mass deforestation has harmful effects to the environment. According to Greenpeace, 300 billion tons of carbon (40 times the annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels) is stored in trees. When cut down, they release their stored carbon into the atmosphere, creating harmful effects and further contributing to climate change. Trees also provide a habitat for millions of species and continued deforestation encourages the further loss of biodiversity on our planet. Here are three ways that you can help the trees:

1. Protest clear cutting. Clear cutting is a method of clearing large tracts of land all at once by cutting or burning down all of the trees in one area. It leaves the land barren and is incredibly destructive to the environment around it.

2. Support green companies and legislation. Paraguay has decreased their deforestation rate by 85% since enactment of their 2004 Zero Deforestation Law. Creating protected areas and secured parks is another initiative that is helpful in reducing deforestation. Global Forest Watch is a website that shares the latest data and tools for people who want to get updated on protecting forests.

3. Plant more trees. Reforestation won’t completely fix the damage, and it will take a while to see the fruits of your labor (it takes about 20 years for the average tree to mature), but it is a step in the right direction. The more trees on the planet, the more carbon they absorb, and the easier we all breathe.

We all need trees to survive, so we all need to step up to protect them. Trees are the answer.

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