Stopping illegal deforestation will protect wildlife and people

January 10, 2022 - 1:38pm

Forests are home to 80% of all land species, they provide 40% of the world's oxygen and many of our modern medicines. Land areas managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities support about 80% of the planet's biodiversity. These lands, primarily tropical forests, also represent one of our most powerful nature-based solutions to addressing the climate crisis.

These are just a few reasons we are thanking Congressman Blumenauer for introducing the FOREST Act, which comes at a critical time for global wildlife, Indigenous peoples and the ecosystems we all depend on. The FOREST Act would help protect habitat for thousands of species, some of which are represented at the Oregon Zoo, where we are working locally and globally address deforestation and its impacts on humans, animal populations and the climate.

The alarming rate of illegal deforestation threatens all of us. By advocating for an industry shift toward legal, sustainable commodities, we can protect and responsibly manage the habitats and natural systems that support life on our planet. Of the top four drivers of deforestation, palm oil is of particular concern to the Oregon Zoo. Unsustainable and illegal palm oil production has devastated tropical forests worldwide, driving some of the world's most celebrated species – including elephants, orangutans and tigers – perilously close to extinction.

Through longstanding conservation and rural community development partnerships in Malaysia and Indonesia, both the Oregon Zoo and Green Empowerment deeply understand the challenges that our people, animals and planet face from deforestation. But the efforts of organizations like ours aren't enough. Protecting forests must be the shared responsibility of producers, buyers, financers, government, conservation organizations and end consumers. Eliminating illegal deforestation from America's supply chains will protect species, people and habitats around the globe.

Rep. Blumenauer's lifelong commitment to conservation and animal welfare has made a positive impact worldwide. Please join us in thanking him and urge that he continue advocating for passage of the Forest Act.

Heidi Rahn
Director, Oregon Zoo

Andrea Johnson
Executive director, Green Empowerment