Tropical Forests and Biodiversity: A new primer for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities

Tropical Forests and Biodiversity: A new primer for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities

The Interfaith Rainforest Initiative has released a new issue primer on forests and biodiversity as a contribution to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15).

The primer covers the new Global Biodiversity Framework, the threats facing tropical forest biodiversity, profiles from the five IRI program countries, areas of priority action to protect forest biodiversity, and how faith groups can make choices and take action to contribute to biodiversity recovery.


Tropical forests are among the world’s premier storehouses of Earth’s vast and diverse array of life—it’s biodiversity. This richness is a wonder—an embodiment of physical and spiritual abundance. We are part of this rich fabric of life—woven into it and dependent on it for our material sustenance and the spiritual food of wonder and inspiration. As our biological heritage, it supports our economic wealth, physical and psychological health, and cultural identity. For many indigenous peoples in particular, forest ecosystems are central to their cosmologies, cultures, and spiritual lives.

But this living birthright is in crisis. Forest biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates. Forest destruction and its accompanying habitat loss, overharvesting of forest species, climate change, as well as other ecosystem disruptions have pushed many forest species to the brink. This loss of forest biodiversity is part of a larger global biodiversity crisis, with more than 1 million species throughout the range of Earth’s ecosystems now at risk of extinction, according to a 2019 assessment of biodiversity threats.

Faced with overwhelming evidence of the global extinction crisis, the international community has mobilized to set clear targets to mitigate biodiversity losses, address the causes of species decline, and protect and restore habitats to help species recover. This has taken shape as a new Global Biodiversity Framework negotiated through the UN Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Now is a moment of clear recognition of the urgency of the plight of Earth’s web of life, and a time to commit to meet the global biodiversity challenge head on.

Fortunately, many of the actions needed to address the biodiversity loss will also protect and enhance forest ecosystems, and therefore will contribute directly to meeting global climate goals. Indeed, the science is clear that climate change and biodiversity loss are two crises that must be tackled in parallel. Nonetheless, any new global biodiversity targets will be difficult to achieve, requiring transformational change in the way we protect and manage forests, produce and consume our food, and regulate trade in forest species. How can we as spiritual communities contribute to meeting these global goals? How can we be part of the needed transformation? As the world community commits itself to recovering nature and restoring ecosystems, how can we participate and ensure long-term protection for tropical forests?

You can read more and download the Issues Primers from the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative website. (Languages available are English, French, Spanish, Portugese and Bahasya Indonesia. )


Tropical Forests and Biodiversity: A new primer for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities


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