Every year since 2012 on March the 21st the UN asks its members to take time to celebrate and promote the importance of the world’s forests. Last year the focus was on ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ and this year the organisation is turning its attention to education.
The message is that none of us are too old and none of us are too young to learn more about the forests that we unconsciously rely on. The promotional video sees a young girl with an uncanny resemblance to Little Red Riding Hood enter a terrifying forest only to have her eyes and mind opened to the “beauty”, the “wonder” and the “treasures” that lie within.
If you need more than some persuasive language and an emotional video to convince you of the importance of forests, then perhaps some of these facts and statistics can do the job:
Over 80% of the entire planet’s land animals and plants live in forests and they cover roughly 31% of the world’s total land area. Around 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods and to support daily sustenance. Over 25% of the medicines that we rely on are derived from rainforest plants. This is already a big deal but it could be even bigger when you consider that we have only studied 1% of rainforest plants for medicinal properties, suggesting that the 25% reliance we currently have could increase.
Rainforests aren’t just a preventative or a cure to illnesses, they are our planet’s lungs, producing more than 40% of the earth’s oxygen. We need forests to protect us from natural disasters such as flooding and mudslides. And if all this wasn’t vital enough, forests and forest soil store more carbon than we have in our atmosphere, estimated at roughly 1 trillion tonnes.
Yet, despite all of this we continue to place profit over the sustainability of our forests, the animals that live in them and the long-term future of our own species. Every year it is estimated that 1000 orangutans die as a result of deforestation and the profits that can be made from the destruction of natural rainforest in exchange for acres of palm oil trees. There are only somewhere in the region of 6000 orangutans left living in the wild today, which if we continue to destroy their habitat at its current rate could mean their extinction within the next decade. The palm oil produced from these man-made jungles is a cheap alternative to other oils that turns up in a vast array of cheap household products, everything from soaps and shampoos, to chocolate and fizzy drinks.
Without significant changes our reliance on palm oil is only set to increase. It is estimated that by 2030 the world’s population will reach a staggering 8.5 billion. More people will mean that challenges such as world hunger and climate change will dominate our futures. Our reliance on rainforests for food, medicine and oxygen will be so profound that if we don’t start preparing now, there could be disastrous consequences for much of our planet within the next 10 years.
Whilst there are good news stories across the globe the facts of the matter are that every year we lose 130,000 square km of forests, that’s an amount equating to roughly the same size as England. We need to worry less about the use of wood and paper, as much of this is now harvested from sustainable sources and focus our concerns on our over-reliance on palm oil. The only way we can make a difference is to shop around and leave products containing palm oil on the shelves until the message begins to sink in, that we place our futures and the future of 80% of earth’s land animals above the profits of huge corporations.
The solution sounds easy enough but the whole point of palm oil is that it is cheap and it is easy to grow. Hence, we get cheap affordable products that helps to keep the weekly shop down. And it wouldn’t just be our pockets that would suffer. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry that employs thousands of people living in some of the poorest parts of the world. If we take away their livelihood then how do they pay their bills and feed their families? In other words, if this really is easy then surely we’d already be doing it? Ending our reliance on palm oil would involve sacrifice but nothing like the sacrifices that we could be facing in over a decade when the full force of our current levels of deforestation, coupled with a huge increase in population, are brought home to roost.
The point of International Day of Forests in 2019 is to begin at home. The UN want us to explore the woodlands ands forests on our doorsteps so that we can begin to appreciate the life within them. They want to ensure that “there are scientists, policy makers, foresters and local communities working to halt deforestation and restore degraded landscapes.”
Last year Secretary General of the UN António Guterres finished his key-note speech on International Day of Forests with the following statement :
“Leaves, and trees, and all plants, are a vital accompaniment to human life. As we celebrate spring, let us celebrate them. I have a particular personal reason to do so. When I was born, my grandfather, the father of my mother, whose name is a family name, that I still keep, that is Oliveira, that is in Portuguese “olive tree”, the day I was born he planted an olive tree. And the olive tree is still there, probably in better health than myself. And I believe it will still be there many years after I no longer [will be] around.
But there is one thing in trees that I find particularly important: it is how they are a symbol of dignity. It is not by chance that trees die standing. And so let us, with this symbolic gesture of today, remind ourselves that we need to do everything we can, not only for a healthy planet but [also] for human dignity to be safeguarded in an healthy planet.”
This year’s message might change, with a focus on the importance of education, but the over-arching message will not and cannot change: That we need to look after the world’s forests today so that we can enjoy the future.
As always, I’ll be using this world event to bring to you a list of slots games that reflect the theme in question. As it is International Day of Forests I am going to be looking at games that are set in jungles, forests or woods. I will only showcase what I believe are the very best games that this theme has to offer, which means that nothing on the list will have scored less than 7 out of 10 on initial review.
This list will contain 5 games in total. It was a list that was difficult to narrow down, but would have involved a lot of repetition of very similar types of games if we had spun it out to a list of 10. This means that the list might be shorter but the 5 games on it are offering plenty of variety for anyone who wants to go and check them out.
Given this year’s theme, and the promotional video that has been created to help sell the occasion, we will have 2 games that are based on the Little Red Riding Hood stories, whilst the other three games on our list will be nestling in front of or within the most incredible looking woods, forests or jungles.
Fairy Tale Legends – Red Riding Hood
Part of the Fairy Tale Legends series, this game was an instant hit with us when Net Entertainment released back in 2016. The game looked fantastic back then and, to be completely honest, it still does 3 years down the line. What made this game such a hit with us was the number of bonus features that it had to offer. This is one of those games that feels as if there is never a dull moment. Just take a look at the paytable and see the number of pages that make it up. I counted 8 features in total, making this the perfect game for anyone with some sort of attention deficit disorder. As for the woods? Well, they make up the game’s background but you really get to grips with them when you trigger the “Beware the Wolf” bonus feature that sees you deep in the heart of whatever woods the story was originally set in.
Play the game here for free
MicroGaming really brought the “beauty”, the “wonder” and the “treasures” of the forest to life when they made Gnome Wood. They came up with of the sort of woods that might exist in an Irish or Scottish myth and then what they did was they added more colour, more light, more toadstools, more creatures and, as the title wood suggest, they added some Gnomes. Again, this game is heavy on the features, not quite as heavy as our previous entry but there are still a lot on this list and very little chance of you getting board as you play.
Play the game here for free
Yggdrasil know how to make their games look good. They also know how to get their titles onto more than one of our lists. Already featuring on our International Soil Day article, Jungle Books makes it onto this list for almost the same reasons. The game is incredible to look at, partly down to the superbly drawn characters (most of whom you will recognise from a famous Rudyard Kipling novel, turned Disney movie, with a very similar title) but also because the Jungle itself is so well designed. It might only be a drawing, it might only be a slot game, but the life that emanates from that jungle typifies everything that we should cherish in our rainforests.
Play the game here for free
Wicked Tales: Dark Red
Wicked Tales: Dark Red sees MicroGaming take their turn at reinventing the famous fairy tale. This time round things are a little bit more grown up. Little Red Riding Hood is a little less little and little bit more voluptuous, whilst the Wolf is a terrifyingly, gnarled ball of muscly fur, that you could never in a million years mistake for your gran. The reels are laid out in an interesting shape that actually shifts throughout the spins and the woods sit in the background, very much like the woods in the opening sequence of the International Day of Forests promotional video. You won’t find quite as many features in this game as some of the early entries on the list but you will find enough to keep you entertained throughout.
Play the game here for free
This is another game to have made it onto a previous list, but this time it is not just the rhino we are interested in. You have a game within a game, which is absolutely prefect for an imaginative slots designer who wants to create an inventive, immersive slots experience. That is exactly what Net Entertainment did with this game, in what was one of their most anticipated releases of 2018. The jungle is brought to life around the boardgame shaped reels, with plants and animals sneaking their way across symbols as you look to try and win big. The game looks fantastic and contains a number of animals could face the same potentially tragic fate as that of the orangutan if we do not do something to reverse the current trend of deforestation.
Play the game here for free
There were a number of excellent games that I would have loved to have included in a longer list but a lot of them are no longer available to play. Games like “Heart of the Jungle” and “Jungle 7s” that you won’t find stocked in any casinos. There was also one notable emission from our list, “Jungle Spirit – Call of the Wild”, a game that is as good as any on this list and if we had 6 spaces it would have been there, without a shadow of a doubt.
Hopefully if there is a chance to write up another list on the 21st of March 2030, many of the predictions that have been made now will not come to pass because of the differences we start making to preserve out planet’s forests now.
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