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Resolution Adopted by the CCAR
PROTECTING ANCIENT FOREST ECOSYSTEMS
at the 111th Convention of the
Central Conference of
In a brief moment in the life of our planet, we have destroyed all but a remnant of Earth's ancient forests. Over the last 300 years, the majestic ancient forests that once covered our continent have been reduced to a small remnant. The United States has already lost a stunning 96% of its old growth forests. Worldwide, 80% of old growth forests have been destroyed, and every year another 16 million hectares fall to the ax, torch, bulldozer, or chain saw.
As a result, thousands of creatures are at risk of extinction. Worldwide, 25% of mammals, 20% of reptiles, 25% of amphibians, and 34% of fish are in danger of extinction. Destruction of forests is a leading cause. Water around the world is polluted with the soil that washes off bare mountains. The biological inheritance of human-kind is being forever diminished, reducing potential sources of medicines, foods, and fibers.
The remaining wild forests are refuges for thousands of threatened creatures and plants, and are vital to the protection of clean water sources for tens of millions of North Americans. Wild forests also serve as refuges for the human spirit, places where we can witness the Creator's majesty, reflect upon the mystery of life, and hear the small, still voice within. Tragically, few alive today have ever stood in an ancient forest.
Judaism teaches that we have a sacred obligation to the Creator, to Creation, and to future generations to safeguard and protect Earth's ecosystems. Before the Flood, Noah and his family protected at least two of every animal species, enabling all creatures to make safe passage from one era of human history to the next. After the Flood, God said to Noah: "Behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you, and with every living creature that is with you, of the birds, of the cattle, and of every wild animal of the earth with you" (Genesis 9:9).
Our heritage calls on us to serve as protectors and defenders of God's magnificent creations, ensuring safe passage of all creatures from one era to the next by protecting their habitats. It is our duty-as people of faith, and citizens of our nation, our world, and our biosphere-to safeguard and weave together the patchwork of remnant forests as best we can.
Therefore, the Central Conference of American Rabbis calls upon all Reform house-holds, schools, synagogues, and camps to:
Furthermore, the CCAR calls upon the federal government to: