Fashion Deforestation Projects Contribute To Only 5 Countries Hold On The World’s Last Wildernesses.

The Fashion Plate
30% of the rayon and viscose used in mass produced clothing like t-shirts comes from endangered and ancient forests. (courtesy photo)

According to Canopy, a non-profit in league with sustainable designers like Stella McCartney to remove endangered and ancient forests from the supply chain for viscose and rayon fabrics, more than 150 million trees are logged every year and turned into cellulosic fabric – if placed end to end those trees would circle the earth seven times.

Canopy founder and executive director, Nicole Rycroft, says around 30% of the rayon and viscose going into clothing comes from dissolvable pulp sourced from endangered and ancient forests. “Ancient and endangered rainforests are being logged, pulped and turned into T-shirts, dresses and suit linings,” she says. “So these man-made cellulosic fabrics like rayon, viscose and lyocell, are created from trees cut down exclusively to feed dissolving pulp mills.”

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An Indonesian forest that has been devastated by logging. Photograph: Rainforest Alliance Network

As a result of such aggressive deforestation, of which the fashion industry is only one perpetrator, the last of the earth’s wilderness will soon be in the hands of just five nations.

The significant impact of the deforestation comes after the Guardian received a report from the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who have for the first time produced a global map of the Earth’s intact ecosystem that sets out which countries still have natural reserves devoid of heavy industrial activity.

The report was published ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt in November where signatory nations will work towards a plan for the protection of biodiversity beyond 2020.

Conservationists are calling for a mandated target for wilderness conservation that will preserve the planet’s vulnerable ecosystems. In places like the sub-sahara, wilderness conservation efforts are already at work. An initiative now known as The Great Green Wall launched in 2017 began planting a wall of trees just under the southern edge of the Sahara desert to fight the effects of climate change by reversing desertification.

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Women taking soil samples for ‘The Great Green Wall’ initiative in sub-Sahara.

The initiative brought together more than 20 countries from the Sahelo-Saharan including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and Gambia.

The UQ and WCS study, published in the journal Nature, identifies Australia, the US, Brazil, Russia and Canada as the last five countries to hold the vast majority of the world’s remaining wilderness.

The Fashion Plate
A Xikrin woman walks back to her village from the Cateté River in Brazil. Photograph: Taylor Weidman/Getty Images
7 ways to stop deforestation:
  1. Plant a tree.
  2. Go paperless.
  3. Buy Less. (The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles a year.)
  4. Recycle and buy recycled products.
  5. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on wood and wood products.
  6. Buy from local farmers (Avoid large multi-chain supermarkets contributing to deforestation)
  7. Eat vegetarian meals as often as possible.

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Nichelle Cole is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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