Leen Depauw / PhD-student

UGent / Bio-engineering: forest and nature science, environmental technology

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My main concerns are the worldwide loss of biodiversity, and – related to this – the massive deforestation that is still going on. Forests have an important function as climate buffers, and therefore, the current decrease in forest area will accelerate global warming, as less cooling due to evapotranspiration will take place, and less CO2 will be captured.
As agriculture is one of the main causes of deforestation, I significantly reduced my meat consumption, and encourage others to do the same. When buying wood products, I choose products that originate from sustainable harvesting. Additionally, to limit my own carbon footprint, I cycle or use public transportation instead of driving a car, and, when travelling, I try to look for alternatives for flying. I try to reduce waste by aiming to buy reusable rather than disposable products and buying local food with less packaging.
Several behavioural changes are needed in society, to reduce our ecological footprint, and should be stimulated by policy changes. Flying should be discouraged by raising taxes, while other public transportation systems should be extended (e.g. train network in Europe) and subsidised. In summary, it should be both easier AND cheaper to travel by train than by plane. Awareness has to be raised concerning the large carbon and water footprint related to meat consumption, and we should aim to move away from the typical ‘meat-based’ diet that is still established nowadays. Also, incentives should be offered to fossil-fuel industries to encourage an urgently needed shift towards renewable energy sources.