Helping End Deforestation to Plant a Future

A Chinese proverb says: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”

Now that it’s September, the changing seasons spotlight trees. Colorful autumn leaves appear in much of the northern hemisphere and shade trees are popular in the warm southern hemisphere.  But as we enjoy the beauty and utility of trees, it is estimated that forests the size of 36 football fields are lost every minute –acres lost as you read this.  The impact is devastating to living creatures in the affected forests and to everyone on Earth.  Unless the Mars exploration moves faster than expected, that means all of us for the foreseeable future.

Forests, especially tropical forests, play a critical role in the life of the planet.  They are the lungs of the earth, cleaning pollutants from the air and helping mitigate climate change.  In fact, the loss of forests is considered a key driver of climate change. Forests also provide clean water, maintain biodiversity, support millions of people, and are a source of innumerable medicines that address diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and cancer.  All of this from trees.

The New York Times Green Blog of August 14 addressed a forest that is critically endangered and vitally important: the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.  With almost 90% of it gone, the Atlantic Forest consists of fragments that cannot support the biodiversity that once existed. Only 22% of the original animal species survive in the forest patches – fewer than past ecological models predicted.

The good news is that forests are naturally sustainable. Trees grow, and forests can be restored. All it takes is a commitment to drive change, down the street and around the world.

Here in New York City, where Avon’s LEED Gold headquarters is located, Million Trees NYC is more than halfway to its goal.  Globally, the United Nations Environment Programme Plant for the Planet Billion Tree Campaign helped drive the planting of more than 12 billion trees worldwide.

Avon is doing its part. Since 2010 the Avon Hello Green Tomorrow project has focused on our mission to help end deforestation in two of the most endangered ecosystems of the world.  Our partners are World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to help restore the tropical forests of Indonesia, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil – the forest so eloquently addressed in the Times Green Blog.

How do we do it?  By mobilizing a global “green army” of independent Avon Sales Representatives, associates and customers in more than 50 countries. They raise much-needed funds and are educated on “five simple things” to drive behavior change – reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink, replant – including online green tips on simple steps to make a difference every day.

Avon recently contributed $1 million to TNC and WWF, representing the midyear tally of the company’s 2012 global fundraising to help end deforestation.  Total Hello Green Tomorrow fundraising has reached $4.5 million in less than three years, with more to come. That’s a lot of trees and a lot of impact, as seen in the Hello Green Tomorrow Video, including footage from projects in Indonesia and Brazil.

About: Susan Arnot Heaney

Former Executive Director, Corporate Responsibility, Avon Products, Inc.

2 comments on “Helping End Deforestation to Plant a Future

  1. Well done Avon.Solar energy to prevent deforestation.Nurturing power to Mother earth.A challenge to all great corporations out there.

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