It seems as if in our current social model only what has a monetary value is important. But many may have not noticed that biodiversity is worth more than all the gold and oil on the planet.
And although it is very difficult to put a price on forests, it is widely recognized the need to improve the way in which our society value the services they provide us.
The global study on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity estimates that one hectare of tropical forest provides about $6 million per year in watershed protection, climate regulation, soil stabilization, and coastal protection.
Those services seem underestimated by the ruling market economy. Not only because each year 13 million hectares of forests are felled in the world to give way to livestock or agriculture. But it seems that their value as a natural heritage is not taken into account when making local and economic decisions. That is, when instead of conserving them we prefer to sweep them away to give way to roads or for mining, That is to say, when short-term or individual interests are more important than collective ones.
For this reason in Fundación Natura we have resolved that the resources of the “Carrera Verde” that we have been doing since 2015 with the support of Argos Group, will be destined exclusively to restoration of our forests. A significant contribution in the midst of national deforestation. According to the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam), 124,000 hectares were destroyed last year.
In 2016 we planted 18,500 native species, three for each of the athletes who participated in the race, an amount we will try to overcome next year. We attempt to make a contribution so that at least small portions of forests, located in our reserves Encenillo and El Silencio, continue to fulfill their primary and fundamental functions. Among those transcendental relics that have been recovered by our race is also the High Andean forest.
In addition to serving us, forests provide a home to a variety of birds, animals, insects and plants that are vital to our health and well-being. It is estimated that there could be up to 100 million species, most of them surviving in the rainforests. Two-thirds of all terrestrial species live in or depend on forests for their survival. In addition, there are currently about 1.75 million species of plants, animals and fungi living in jungles and groves.
“La Carrera Verde” is also justified because in helping the forests of passage we contribute to human well-being. Forests are capable of removing about 15% of the annual human-made carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. They can also ‘cool’ the globe by evaporating large volumes of water and creating clouds that reflect sunlight into space.
They are also an effective insurance against the impacts of climate change, a fact especially evident in the Amazon: extended over more than 800 million hectares in nine countries, with the world’s largest diversity of birds, freshwater fish and butterflies, releasing about 8 billion tonnes of water vapor into the atmosphere every year for rain and potable water.
Not counting the importance of forest diversity for the agricultural sector, which has the challenge of feeding an increasingly growing population and a lifestyle characterized for the consumption of protein. And highlighting, in addition, the shelter that forests offer to indigenous communities and how fundamental they are for their culture and identity.
For all this any effort to achieve the restoration of forests is a victory and a successful attempt to improve the quality of life for all. And “La Carrera Verde” is sustained on that legitimate intention.