Maurine Winkley is the Director of Operations at Rainforest Partnership. In both professional and academic experience, she has sought opportunities to combine her passion for entrepreneurship and finance with her desire to create lasting economic alternatives to environmental destruction. Specific focal areas have been in carbon finance, financial analysis and international business management. Her experience spans both the non-profit and privates sectors and notably includes two businesses she started, managed and sold.
Maurine enjoys being outdoors as much as possible and joining local volunteer efforts in her home town of Austin, TX. Other core interests include gourmet cooking, international travel, conversing in Spanish & Portuguese and staying active. Read her guest blog below!
When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, much of the focus today is on new technologies for renewable energy and other cool stuff like electric cars and high tech green buildings. While these are an essential part of the solution, sometimes old tricks are the best tricks for making big reductions in emissions: saving the rainforest.
Not only do rainforests take out carbon from the atmosphere and store it, but they also produce oxygen, hold 50% of the species on the planet (think monkeys, butterflies, trees) and regulate weather patterns beyond their immediate location.
One of the best ways we can reduce global carbon emissions is by stopping people from cutting down and burning trees in rainforests. Cutting and burning of forests adds up to one fifth of the annual global carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). For rainforests, that is the equivalent of about 24,000 football fields a day that get cut! If we can stop tropical deforestation, it would be like stopping every car and truck from emitting CO2.
It’s that simple!
But, it is not that easy. As much as we would like to, those trees in the Amazon cannot be protected unless they are worth more standing that cut down, or the land they are on is worth more with them on it. So we must work to find innovative and effective ways to protect rainforests.
Experts agree that empowering communities to act as stewards of their forests works better than fencing off large sections forest and hoping that it remains untouched – working with the communities that live in and around the rainforest ensures that everyone benefits.
Over the past decade, Peru has lost more than one million hectares of rainforests to deforestation. In a new study using satellite imagery to estimate the carbon stocks of forests in Peru, researchers at Carnegie Mellon found some telling numbers.
The researchers mapped out 4.3 million hectares of the Amazon forest in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. They found that the trees in this region contained some 395 million metric tons of carbon and measured a release of 630,000 metric tons of carbon per year. They also found that older more diverse forests stored 3 times as much carbon as replanted forests.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations cutting deforestation rates by just 50 percent over the next century would provide about 12 percent of the emissions reductions that we need to meet the carbon dioxide concentration target of 450 parts per million at the end of the century. Obviously this is just part of the solution, but I think that we can do better than 50 percent. Prudent forest conservation and management efforts combined with aggressive reforestation will go a long way towards saving the planet from catastrophic climate change that our current trajectory is steering us towards.
This is where we step in. At Rainforest Partnership, we are partnering with communities that live and depend on the forest to create sustainable economies that protect and regenerate their forests. We believe that the best stewards of the rainforest are the people who live in the forest.
Every forest and every community is unique. Using a bottom-up approach, Rainforest Partnership matches the needs, desires, culture, knowledge and skills of local communities with sustainable economic development opportunities unique to each local forest.
At Rainforest Partnership we work with rainforest communities at the local level but there are also steps that we can all take as global consumers of products that come from the rainforest. My advice would be to become aware of what you buy. The rainforest provides us with a cornucopia of goods: coffee, chocolate, tea, fruits, and not to mention wood. As consumers we need to purchase goods that are grown and harvested sustainably and that provide real benefits to the communities that harvest them.