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International Day of Forests

by Emily Viggiani 8 months ago in Science

Dr Jane Goodall’s plea to save the forests

Dr. Jane Goodall started off as a secretary. Good English women were supposed to do secretarial work in the 1960s. They were not supposed to be scientists in an African rainforest back then.

Dr. Louis Leaky took a chance on Jane that changed the course of her life. He wanted an untrained citizen scientist to study the chimpanzees in Africa so that the world could learn more about homo sapiens’ origins. Of course, she could not be entirely alone, so he brought her mother, who later had to leave due to catching malaria. However, Jane had other company in Hugo Van Lawick, and their son, commonly known as “Grub“. Jane also had the chimpanzees as friends.

I’ve followed Dr Goodall’s career for as long as I can remember. Living in a forest conservation, it’s hard not to be inspired by how all the trees communicate with each other, work together, and provide homes for the animals. We observe various temperate climate birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits. We try not to attract hawks, coyotes, skunks, or racoons. On a rare occasion, we see deer or foxes.

Dr Goodall learned a lot from the chimpanzees. She learned that they were not much kinder than people, and she learned that they form cliques and hierarchies, and she famously learned that they can eat meat and modify tools to use. She raised her son, “Grub”, alongside a female chimpanzee’s infant.

I’ve learned a lot from observing the forest in which I live, as well. Much like chimpanzees, each squirrel has a unique personality, also. Some of them are easily trusting, some are greedy and aggressive, and some are the most gentle creatures. Some squirrels have gotten too accustomed to us, but that’s our fault.

The idea that people living in the city have no access to forests or cannot forest-bathe is foreign to me, since I’m living in the Toronto area. We are a very green city, with parks and conservations everywhere. It makes me very sad to hear that so many people live so far away from the forests. Further north of Toronto, we have a Boreal forest which allows for Canada’s carbon dioxide emissions to be relatively neutralized.

There have been many forest fires recently. Most notably, the Amazon rainforest fires of 2019. The Amazon rainforest is the reason why so many people are able to breathe fresh air. It is home to many plants, animals, and indigenous communities. The Amazon rainforest is also the largest carbon sink, aside from the oceans, in the world.

She urges us not to think of forests as a service to humans, however. Yes, forests are providing us with air, food, and medicine. Yet, aside from these services, trees are also semi-sentient, in a way. Trees can communicate with one another by utilizing their roots. I don’t agree with tree-farming around Christmastime. Trees should not be raised just to be slaughtered. Deforestation increases greenhouse gas emissions, as well. Further, reforestation does not refer to homogenous tree farms. Those are not the same as biodiverse forests, and they do not benefit any creature like a biodiverse forest does.

Dr Jane Goodall wrote a wonderful book that I have read called Seeds of Hope. It is about plant biology and ethics. She is just as much an advocate for flora as she is for fauna. Of course, without flora, there would be no fauna. Speaking of her advocacy, she became an activist in the 1980s, as well as a vegetarian. Ever since, she has been longing to go back to the forest in Gombe, however she now knows what her purpose is and how to use herself for a greater cause. She is currently a United Nations Messenger of Peace and an activist.

Dr Jane Goodall is also an advocate for us: human beings. She wants to empower and educate indigenous communities on how rainforest conservation and animal welfare will help them. Also, she wants to empower the next generation of women in science. So, I’d say she’s pretty inspiring. From one forest lover, to all of you out there loving your forests, I hope you have a great International Day of Forests.


Emily Viggiani

Vegetarian, ferret mom, Buddhist

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