Can renting the world’s forests, with help from the foreign aid budget, lead the way?

We know relatively little about the world’s forests and what they might ultimately be able to give us by way of chemical and biological resources. Might they also prove to be our salvation, if only we knew it? We know they are being cut down at a catastrophic rate. We know we are only too rapidly losing the lungs of the world. We know the loss of forests causes untold environmental damage in various ways. We also know that they provide a habitat for animals and that this loss of habitat drives these creatures into closer contact with us. We also know that this increases the risk of us becoming infected by Zoonotic diseases. We know millions of us are catching Covid-19 and it is killing us (1.9 million so far). How much more do we need to know before we wake up and do something to address this situation? Those who destroy the forests (rain or otherwise) do so either for direct income (a business) or survival (to grow food they lack the means to pay for). So one very obvious way of taking that first step towards saving these forests is to replace the internal income generated by destroying the forest with an external source of income to protect and enhance the forest. In other words ‘rent’ them from their owners. Pay them to look after the forests just as we are now looking to pay our farmers to look after our countryside. In the UK the obvious source of this rent should be the foreign aid budget; particularly when you consider that 7.73 billion (and rising) foreigners will benefit from such action. If the rules don’t allow it; change the rules. Of course ideally global action is required, but we could start with the next G7 Summit, which the UK is hosting and which will include climate and environmental action as one topic. We should seek to get as many nations as possible on board to each contribute towards this annual rent. Why not include some of the world’s wealthiest, for example Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk et al? A global organisation would be the tenant and any benefits accruing, from the carefully controlled activities permitted within the areas rented, would be shared globally.




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