Hello! My name is Emma and I am a freshman nursing student at Binghamton University. I and three friends have wanted to travel abroad for a while to do volunteer work, but we had to be over 18. Now that we meet the age requirement, we are very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Portugal to help preserve our forests that are vital to the survival of our beautiful earth. One tree produced 250 pounds of oxygen per year. To put that into perspective, one large tree supplies four people with a day's worth of oxygen. As we know, trees also store carbon dioxide in their fibers helping to clean the air and reduce the negative effects that this CO2 could have had on our environment. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange (USDA). The power of just one tree is incredible. Here are some more facts about trees and forests:
- Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
- Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
- Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rainwater, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
- More than half of the world’s estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects live in the tropical rain forests. One-fifth of the world’s fresh water is in the Amazon Basin.
- One hectare (2.47 acres) may contain over 750 types of trees and 1500 species of higher plants.
- At least 80% of the developed world’s diet originated in the tropical rainforest. Its bountiful gifts to the world include fruits like avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bananas, guavas, pineapples, mangoes and tomatoes; vegetables including corn, potatoes, rice, winter squash and yams; spices like black pepper, cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric, coffee and vanilla and nuts including Brazil nuts and cashews.
- At least 3000 fruits are found in the rain forests; of these only 200 are now in use in the Western World. The Indians of the rain forest use over 2,000.
- Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites, particularly alkaloids. Biochemists believe alkaloids protect plants from disease and insect attacks. Many alkaloids from higher plants have proven to be of medicinal value and benefit.
- Currently, 121 prescription drugs currently sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. And while 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rain forest ingredients, less than 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
- The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3000 plants that are active against cancer cells. 70% of these plants are found in the rain forest. Twenty-five percent of the active ingredients in today’s cancer-fighting drugs come from organisms found only in the rain forest.
- Vincristine, extracted from the rainforest plant, perwinkle, is one of the world’s most powerful anticancer drugs. It has dramatically increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since its discovery.
Additionally, as taken from the World Wildlife org., "Forests cover 31% of the land area on our planet. They help people thrive and survive by, for example, purifying water and air and providing people with jobs; some 13.2 million people across the world have a job in the forest sector and another 41 million have a job that is related to the sector. Many animals also rely on forests. Eighty percent of the world's land-based species, such as elephants and rhinos, live in forests. Forests also play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere and contribute to ongoing changes in climate patterns." While the importance of trees and forests is widespread, people continue to support deforestation in order to boost economical gains, without a second thought to the damage being caused. We won't stand by and not take action any longer. With that being said, we are college kids and honestly don't have the best funds for this trip, but really want to help despite this. However, this trip will leave a dent in all of our pockets that once again we should not even be thinking about, but it was the cheapest option to help the environment where it is needed. While we are asking for a large sum, this amount would help us cover the flights to and from Portugal, which would help us all tremendously. Nevertheless, literally, any amount of money raised would be beneficial, even if it was a total of $5 each because every cent counts. With this, I hope you consider donating to our cause to mitigate the environmental damage that has persisted for far too long.