How can we save forests and trees?

Why are trees so important for the planet?

Trees and forests are critical for our planet because trees are literally the “lungs” of the Earth — without trees, animals and humans wouldn’t be able to breathe!

It’s thought that one large, mature tree is capable of providing life-sustaining oxygen for up to four people — every day!  (Source:

Climate disruption is also dramatically affecting the ability of trees to continue to supply oxygen for all living on the planet.  We’re seeing significant increases in the frequency and severity of droughts and fires — all very dangerous to trees! — in places such as California, Australia, Indonesia, and the extremely biodiverse Amazon rainforest.

Forests are essential to offset climate change by storing carbon and directly control rainfall and other climatic patterns.

How do trees affect climate change?

Forests are magnificent and ancient ecosystems home to 50 percent of all terrestrial species on Earth.

Red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer), Rainforest, Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

Trees soak up carbon dioxide when they grow, reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and slowing climate change. Restoring degraded forests creates habitat for many species, including endangered ones. By filtering stormwater runoff and pollutants, forests reduce flood risk and protect the health of our waterways. Trees also prevent wind and water erosion, and influence local weather patterns.

And yet, especially in tropical regions, forests are under siege. Our planet’s forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate, driven by unsustainable agriculture, development, logging, and mining.

The sheer scale of the crisis boggles the mind—if current deforestation rates continue, tropical rainforests could be gone within the lifetimes of the young people alive today.

MISSION GREEN offers four easy actions you can take today to help save forests and trees:

Conserve trees and forests in your area.

Contact your local government and encourage community leaders to conserve forests, create parks, and oppose destructive suburban sprawl and other developments. Volunteer with a local land trust or parks and recreation department, or consider a conservation easement if you own forested land. 

Plant trees—the more the better!

Plant trees in your community or donate to organizations that plant trees around the world. Keep in mind that planting trees should never be an excuse for destroying existing forests and, when you donate, make sure that your money goes toward restoring native ecosystems rather than planting timber monocultures destined for logging.

Buy forest-friendly (or certified) products such as shade-grown coffee.

Use your purchasing power in a high-impact way to prevent deforestation. Agriculture is responsible for 80 percent of deforestation around the world, with mining and logging contributing as well. Beef is by far the worst offender—in addition to driving widespread forest clearing in the tropics, cows contribute heavily to climate change by emitting methane.

Avoid buying beef, soy, uncertified palm oil or other products that come from the tropics, and look for certifications from the Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil when you shop. Food co-ops and natural food stores often carry these products.

Buy shade-grown coffee, which is grown under the forest canopy rather than on cleared lands.

For more information and ideas, check out the TREE Foundation’s Rainforest-Friendly Purchasing Guide!

Advocate for climate disruption solutions.

Get involved locally and globally! Join neighborhood or community groups to campaign to enact progressive climate policies in your area.