The destruction or fragmentation of natural habitats is one of the main threats facing species around the world. Growing human populations impose an increasing need for resources, and this has a damaging effect on the world’s ecosystems. The population of the African continent alone had some 100 000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century, but one billion in 2014. As well as being home to sometimes exceptional flora and fauna (they probably harbor about half of all species on Earth), forests act as natural reservoirs for carbon. When people clear the forests, usually with fire, carbon stored in the wood returns to the atmosphere, enhancing the greenhouse effect and global warming. Forests also contribute to the production of the oxygen that we breathe.
© Cyril Ruoso
An impact on climate change
Furthermore, the burning of forests to make way for expanding agricultural land produces nearly a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions, which are partly responsible for climate change.At the beginning of 2016, we launched our first programme in South America. It is dedicated to the preservation and regeneration of Peru’s Polylepis forests — the world’s highest altitude forests.