A global faith-based movement, the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, has been strengthening its communication and creating country programs in an ongoing effort to inspire people, appeal to their core values, and make an ethical case for urgent and concerted action to protect rainforests.
Tropical rainforests in South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are falling rapidly due to a range of forces, including palm oil plantations; cattle, soy and crop production; and rapacious and often illegal mining and logging operations.
“We believe that the leadership, moral authority and unparalleled influence of the world’s religions may be the missing piece that will help end tropical deforestation,” reads a statement released by the initiative. “This partnership is based on an informed belief that there is a commitment across faiths to achieve this goal.”
The group is communicating via a website and an online newsletter to share relevant news, resources and educational materials on rainforests, climate change, issues related to indigenous peoples.
The preservation of tropical rainforests is widely viewed as fundamental to halting climate change. Many climate experts note that forests are the only proven approach for capturing and storing large amounts of carbon.
Tropical rainforests also provide food, water and income to 1.6 billion people.
Interfaith Rainforest Initiative has also created country programs in Colombia and Peru, bringing together more than 125 leaders from diverse spiritual traditions together with indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, and governments for workshops, planning and dialogue on how religious leaders and faith communities can bring their considerable influence to bear on halting and reversing tropical deforestation in each country.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is part of the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative through its programmatic area of Care for Creation and Climate Justice.
For Rev. Henrik Grape, coordinator of the WCC working group on climate change, the protection of the rainforests and climate change are very closely related. “Being part of this initiative is also a natural way to go further in our common pilgrimage for justice and peace”, he said.