The importance of tropical forests, including their ability to store carbon and thereby slow climate change, cannot be emphasised enough. Deforestation and forest degradation contributes as much as 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year–rivalling emissions from transportation globally. In the Congo Basin, tropical rainforests are disappearing due to the timber and mining industries as well as agricultural land clearing. Local people lacking basic needs are often compelled to rely on forests, harvesting trees to sell as charcoal unsustainably.

The Jane Goodall Institute works to help local communities improve their health, education, and economic livelihoods in order to achieve protection of forest habitat. Keeping forests alive maintains the balance of global ecosystems, allowing rainforests to remain the “lungs” of the planet absorbing excess harmful carbon and releasing oxygen. In conjunction with these efforts – including livelihood options, reforestation and land-use planning – JGI works with local and international governments to support policy which emphasises sustainable development.

As a UN Messenger of Peace, Jane and JGI spread the message of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which include things like Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Life on Land, Life Below Water, and Climate Action as a way to hold countries accountable for providing alternatives for production and protections that will help in our work to prevent climate change and restore critical habitat.