Your donation today will help protect Boden Creek – forever. A vital expanse of virtually untouched rainforest in Belize, Boden Creek is home to jaguars, monkeys, ocelots and hundreds of other species. But even more importantly, areas like this urgently need our protection.
Why our rainforests are important
Rainforests are incredibly important to our planet. A huge, humming mass of foliage, plants and life, they provide habitat to millions of living creatures, help to clean our planet’s air, and remove the CO2 pumped out by everything from combustion engines to forest fires. They also help to prevent flooding in the local area, and some indigenous peoples have lived in harmony with them for years. It is important at every level to save rainforests, from the global to the local.
The forests of the world are in flames
You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the myriad reports about the destruction of the world’s forests this year. But rarely has that destruction been more devastating or shocking than in the forests of South and Central America. The destruction of great swathes of the Amazon has provoked a worldwide response. But lately we’ve also seen fire laying waste to California, Indonesia and Australia, to name just a few – and the charred leftovers of everything consumed by the flames make grim viewing.
Sadly, the primary driver of rainforest loss is humans. The wrecking of these living, breathing agglomerations of life is often driven by a quest for economic gain. Here are just a few examples:
Illegal logging is usually found in areas next to roads through the forest, and usually occurs as a result of economic deprivation. Unsanctioned, unmanaged and often downright dangerous tree felling eats away at the forest where it is most vulnerable. Although it often happens on a smaller scale, unfortunately there is never “just one” – and so the incision into a forest caused by a major road rapidly widens over time, as more opportunists enter the area.
Huge-scale plantations for everything from palm oil to bananas and citrus fruits can have a devastating impact on a rainforest. Although from a distance it might like look a forest, the tightly regimented trees of a plantation have none of the variety needed to support rainforest wildlife. Worse still, these trees may be covered with pesticides, disrupting the rainforest food chain, and monkeys and birds looking for food are seen as pests, despite the fact that they were there long before.
Slash and burn to level areas of rainforest for livestock rearing is one of the principal causes of forest habitat destruction worldwide. At first, the ground that is exposed is rich and fertile through the centuries of organic rainforest matter that have been fed into it. But as grass is grown in the area for livestock, that goodness is leached out over time. With no rainforest to continue to feed into it, what started out as lush green vegetation is eventually reduced to dry, barren and broken land.
Some rainforests are “inconveniently” positioned over resources such as coal, oil or even rare minerals for high-tech mobile phone parts, and the extraction of these resources can be utterly devastating. Although some companies try to redress the balance, there are others who will irresponsibly destroy the forests to reach the resources below. Unregulated mines also can end up not just razing the land but poisoning it too, as water is used to wash away the unwanted material, but ends up carrying highly toxic compounds away too. What’s more, if water is removed from underground (as is often needed) it can reduce the available water for plants on the surface. And that’s before one considers the impact of the roads built to remote locations – ideal for illegal loggers. The overall impact can be almost apocalyptic in scale.
Deforestation: Five shocking facts
- The world has lost a net area of 178 million ha of forest since 1990, which is an area about the size of Libya.
- The global rate of net forest loss was 4.7 million ha per year in 2010–2020
- Plantations now form 3% of the world’s forests
- 64 million ha of primary forest was lost in 2019
- Habitat loss and degradation affect 89% of all threatened birds, 83% of mammals, and 91% of threatened plants.
Jaguars as an indicator of rainforest health
In a complex ecosystem, such as a tropical rainforest, conservationists sometimes depend on using the success or survival of a species as a way to estimate the health of that ecosystem. The concept is simple. The higher the animal sits on the food chain, the healthier and stronger the ecosystem needs to be to support it. And in the forests of Central America, almost nothing can rival the raw power of the jaguar.
Jaguar and black panthers – The Americas’ biggest cats
These incredible big cats can travel around 10km per night while hunting. As the top predator in the area, there’s little that can hold a candle to them. However, to feed their huge bulk requires a decent meal, so they will eat every chance they get. Their distinctive rosettes make them instantly recognisable – if you’re able to spot them in the undergrowth of course. What many people don’t know is that black panthers are actually a dark or ‘melanistic’ form of jaguar – and if you look carefully, you can still observe the rosette pattern on them.
On top of all this power, camouflage and stealth, they are great swimmers too. They are an unstoppable force of the rainforest, and need a large space to hunt, breed and roam – this is exactly what makes them such a good indicator of the health of the forest.
Save rainforests and you save jaguars
Protecting pristine primary forest, like that of Boden Creek in Belize, is absolutely vital. Forest must be free from wholesale invasion by loggers and miners, so the creatures that have spent thousands of years evolving and adapting to this complex interlinked system of mutually dependent life forms can exist in peace. And the jaguars that sit at the top of this chain can have at least one space in which they can live and breed.
Putting the rainforest under local protection
We have a long-term plan for this land. Once we’ve put the purchase through, we will work to put the land under the protection of local conservation groups, as they are the ones best placed to manage it. We have a trusted conservation partner in Belize with whom we have worked for decades, and we know they will steward the land effectively – they’ve already been doing exactly that in a neighbouring protected area.
Save the rainforest from becoming a plantation and protect the jaguar’s only home.
So please, give whatever you can afford to help. We’re asking for your help on behalf of those who can’t. On behalf of the rainforests, the jaguars and the planet – please act now. Thank you.