Wingham Wildlife Park, in 2018 opened a new section of the park, carrying the title of Rainforest S.O.S, with the aim of educating their visitors about the plight of rainforests around the world.
Around the World
As people walk through the exhibit, learning that it is not just animals, but also plants which are endangered and going extinct in the wild, a story unfolds which starts in Costa Rica as a beacon of hope – proof that whilst rainforest have been and continue to be logged at an alarming rate, countries can take a stance, saying “That’s enough! we want our lush forests back!” These forests won’t be the same as the virgin rainforests which they are replacing, but they are better than scorched earth.
However as the journey continues past the squirrel monkeys, and colobus monkeys, towards the mangabeys the horrors of deforestation appear to unfold in front of your eyes, until you see the damage caused by cutting down trees, hundreds of years in the making.
When forests are cut down, everything changes… The plants around them are damaged and destroyed, mammals run out of food, birds have nowhere to nest and the planet (including everything on it) starts to slowly asphyxiate in the waste which we as human produce. Carbon dioxide which we release is absorbed and stored by trees around the world, and replaced by life giving oxygen. As trees become more scarce, so oxygen and places to store carbon dioxide become more and more of a luxury. Carbon dioxide is only the tip of the iceberg with a number of other direct consequences arising from a decrease in forest cover, especially when converted for agricultural use.
Deforestation comes in many forms, and whilst it is easy to blame one particular problem, each is making its own significant contribution to the problem, and as such all need to be focused on to ensure that we can turn this issue around before it is too late:
It’s Not All Doom & Gloom
The exhibit is all made from wood products, however they are testament that these things can be done and achieved without killing off the world’s valuable resources, as all of the wood used is sustainably grown and sourced. Using sustainably sourced wood is something which you can put in to practice yourself at home when carrying out DIY projects, buying furniture or stocking your fire place. Look for wood which has an FSC stamp. However, sustainability isn’t an issue just for wood products, but can be applied to many areas of your life, with the most topical at the moment perhaps being palm oil.
Palm oil is in much of what we eat, however in products where it is replaced it is often replaced with some other vegetable oil, whether this be sunflower, soya, coconut etc. Whilst it is true to palm oil production is one of the biggest killers of natural habitats in the world, the sad reality is that it is the most productive of the vegetable oils so we cannot afford to ban or boycott it completely. If palm oil was replaced, the soya or sunflower plantations needed to produce the same amount of usable vegetable oil would be even higher and thus more destructive. However it is not the end, as palm oil can be sustainably produced! Existing plantations can be removed and replanted to stop new plantations cropping up and other types of land can be used by making this land more accessible and productive than the rainforest land which is often used. To top it off, it is becoming more and more easy to find out which products use sustainable palm oil products!
Check out the Wingham Wildlife Park sustainable palm oil policy to see how you can do the same as this wildlife park and use only sustainable palm oil products in your home. It’s easier than you might think!
Through this immersive exhibit at Wingham Wildlife Park we have been working to raise not only awareness but also funds for a very special project being run by the World Land Trust. Please click here to find out more about what this amazing charity does for ecosystems around the world.