How can Minnesotans help the Amazon rainforest amid fires? Local nonprofits offer some ideas
Events thousands of miles away can prompt action close to home, leaders of Twin Cities groups say.
By Kelly Smith Star Tribune AUGUST 30, 2019
Thousands of miles away from Minnesota, rainforests in the Amazon are burning down. But local nonprofits say Minnesotans can help.
More than 26,000 forest fires have been recorded in the Amazon rainforest this month, the highest number in a decade, according to the New York Times. That affects climate change because forests absorb a significant share of the planet’s climate-warming carbon dioxide. They are also home to endangered species and indigenous people.
“It’s a global issue … it will impact Minnesota,” said Tim Schaefer, the state director of Environment Minnesota, an advocacy organization based in Minneapolis. “It’s just a really important moment and we want to be part of finding a solution.”
Here are some suggestions:
• Donate to a nonprofit
National nonprofits such as the Rainforest Alliance have set up funds to support groups in Brazil working to protect the Amazon.
A lush forest sits next to a field of charred trees in Vila Nova Samuel, Brazil, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. The current fires in the Amazon were set by those who are clearing the forest for cattle ranching and crops. About 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil.
• Contact elected officials
Schaefer said local residents could put pressure on federal elected officials to boost aid to Brazil. National environmental groups also say consumers should be aware of how their choices affect deforestation.
• Plant a tree
Many local nonprofits organize and fund tree plantings across the state.
Great River Greening, a St. Paul nonprofit, organizes volunteers to plants trees, grasses and flowers and implement conservation practices on agricultural land to decrease erosion throughout the state. Donate or find more details at greatrivergreening.org.
“While we’re a long way from the Amazon here in Minnesota, our work to plant native trees, grasses, and wildflowers acts as a carbon sink to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Mary Anne Welch, a spokeswoman for Great River Greening, said. “So a concrete way for folks to make a difference is to commit to stewardship in anyway they can, on their own properties and in larger areas.”
At Tree Trust, a St. Paul nonprofit that plants 3,000 trees a year across the metro area, people can volunteer to help plant trees this fall or donate at treetrust.org. “Trees planted anywhere help people everywhere,” Tree Trust’s Karen Zumach said.