Salvar los árboles de la vida

Nadie puede pasar un día sin usar un producto que provenga de un bosque. En mayor medida de lo que la mayoría de la gente se da cuenta, el papel sobre el que escribimos, el agua que sale de nuestros grifos, las medicinas que nos sanan, la madera que construye nuestras casas y muebles, todos se originan en bosques. Los bosques producen el aire fresco que respiramos y son los hábitats de especies en peligro. También nos proporcionan oportunidades recreativas, cada vez más importantes en nuestro complejo mundo. Aproximadamente 1,5 mil millones de los pobres que viven en zonas rurales del mundo dependen de los bosques para necesidades básicas como comida y leña.

Sin embargo, la deforestación continúa. Cada año perdemos 14,6 millones de hectáreas (145.000 kms. cuadrados) de bosques, un área casi cuatro veces el tamaño de Suiza. El manejo forestal irresponsable, acentuado por la mala regulación y aplicación de las leyes por parte de los gobiernos, y los mercados que premian la tala ilegal están conspirando para acabar con los bosques más valiosos y amenazados del mundo. Una vez que los bosques comienzan a desaparecer, por lo general se produce un conjunto de males ambientales, sociales y económicos que nos afectan a todos de alguna manera.

La isla de Sumatra, en Indonesia, es un buen ejemplo. Las compañías productoras de pulpa y papel están llevando a cabo una destrucción rampante e ilegal de bosques que contienen la más rica diversidad de plantas del mundo. Es probable que en el camino desaparezcan plantas todavía por descubrir, así como especies en peligro como el rinoceronte y el elefante de Sumatra, y el orangután. Cuando los bosques de Sumatra desaparezcan, comunidades completas de personas se encontrarán con un lugar poco idóneo para vivir y sin una manera decente de ganarse la vida.

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