Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Forests Save lives

Promoting healthy forests for the sake of the ecosystem and the sake of the animals living within them.

Forest life cycle

Forest ecosystems comprise a dynamic interaction between animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms and of course a globally important carbon sink, without which we could never avert dangerous climate change.

Most tropical tree species depend on animals to disperse their seeds, and each huge, towering, centuries-old rainforest tree or savannah baobab we see today is the result of an ecological event hundreds of years ago when, say, an elephant ate a fruit, swallowed the seed and the next day deposited it in nutrient-rich dung far from the parent plant. If we want tropical forests and woodlands to continue storing carbon, generating rainfall and stabilising our climate for centuries to come we need to protect the primates, elephants and other 'gardeners of the forest' today. Tropical field biologist and conservationist Ian Redmond, OBE, talks about the importance of 'gardeners of the forest' in his 2014 TEDx talk

This is not, of course, just about saving the charismatic mega-vertebrates which depend on the forest for shelter, food and protection. Forest destruction and degradation accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, much more than the transport sector.   Cutting down forests is a double loss because the process adds to the very problems we need the forests to help solve.  Forests store carbon not just in the wood of the trees, but in the soil, especially in tropical forests growing on peat swamps which release centuries’ worth of stored carbon if they dry out.

The Born Free Foundation, a member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is therefore working to help protect, conserve and effectively manage the world’s forests to maintain biodiversity and counter climate change.  By helping local people and wildlife departments protect primates, elephants, big cats and other keystone species, Born Free helps maintain healthy ecosystems all over the world for the benefit of both people and wildlife.  

Rough stats:

  • 13 million hectare for forest in South America, Africa and south East Asia is converted to agricultural land each year.

  • Half of the world’s tropical forests have already been cleared.

  • One and a half acres of forest is cut down every second, equal to one and half football fields or 24 tennis courts.

  • 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest.

  • Almost half of world’s timber and up to 70% of the world’s paper is consumed by Europe, the United States and Japan alone.


A few key drivers of deforestation:

  • Palm Oil Plantations: Did you know that as much as 50% of the products you use every day contain palm oil? Many food products containing palm oil are only obliged to list it as 'vegetable oil' in the ingredients list (though from December 2014 new EU legislation requires it to be labelled), while in non-food products there are, approximately, 200 alternate names for palm oil – do we really know what we are buying?Find out more on The European Food Information Council website and see the consequences of illegal palm oil plantations on orangutans in Sumatra on the vEcotourism website

  • Agriculture: When tropical forests are cleared for agriculture, including cattle farming, the land quickly losses its fertility.  And rainforests don’t just receive rain – they generate it.  The evaporation and transpiration from forest trees puts 8-10 times as much water vapour into the atmosphere as the same area of ocean, and drives the world’s weather systems that water fields and plantations all over the planet.   Without forests, many well-watered areas would become arid and useless for agriculture.

  • Timber products: Just remember, most of the tropical trees we fell today for our garden furniture, hardwood paneling and luxury printing paper were 'planted' by animals many centuries ago and are crucial to life on earth. Look for the FSC logo to make sure your purchases are not funding deforestation!
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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