The first-ever World Rainforest Day was observed on June 22, 2017. It was established by a collaboration of groups, called the Rainforest Partnership. The international non-profit organisation is based in Austin, Texas and it is dedicated to protect and regenerate tropical rainforests through community-based projects in the Amazon.

Rainforests are vital for the survival of life on Earth. We depend on the Amazon rainforest alone for 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink. They absorb our carbon dioxide, stabilize climate patterns, and are home to half the world’s plant and animal species.

Yet every minute, we lose 40 football fields of rainforests, which threatens our biodiversity and imperils our planet’s health. Deforestation causes 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions that accelerate climate change—more than from all cars in the U.S. and China combined. Natural climate solutions like protecting and restoring forests, however, could reverse global emissions by a third.

World Rainforest Day was first created in 2017 by the Rainforest Partnership. They work with Indigenous Peoples living in rainforest environments and launch projects to help restore and regenerate healthy rainforests with local communities. The day is about raising awareness of the importance of the rainforest and what it does for us. By coming together on the day, we can all take positive and hopeful action to protect the rainforest and preserve its lifespan as it has maintained our own lives for thousands of years.

There are hundreds of events, from within local communities to virtual events, education initiatives in schools, charity projects, and the hundreds of small actions we can take each day ourselves to protect the rainforest. Whether you’re going solo in your rainforest approach or part of a group of friends, family members, or colleagues, you’ll be forming part of a community spanning the entire globe. The website has award-winning videos, educational material, and advice for people looking to protect the environment.

The core focus of the Rainforest Partnership is to save the rainforest by working on rainforest-based community projects that create a positive impact on the local peoples and wildlife that rely on the rainforest each day. Although their headquarters are based in Texas, they are primarily in the rainforest with their Latin American based team. Why has the Rainforest Partnership been so successful? Because it’s partnered with organizations worldwide to create a unified response to deforestation. As an affiliated member of the UN Economic and Social Council, they can consult and advise organizations and businesses across the world on sustainable and ecologically led practices.

But just how long has the rainforest been helping us out for? The Amazon rainforest has existed for around 60 million years, forming when the Atlantic Ocean had expanded enough to create a tropical climate in the Amazon basin. Following the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, it is believed that a moister climate developed, leading to the expansion of the rainforest. Over millions of years, it is theorized that the rainforest might have suffered many reductions and expansions, caused by factors like expanding and contracting glaciers.

You can even host a rainforest awareness day yourself by arranging an event that highlights the cause or contributes towards a rainforest protection charity. If you’re not a fan of organizing events, why not participate in a sponsored run, climb, trek, or even walk to raise funds? You can also search for registered tree planting charities, where you can sponsor the planting of a tree to give back to the rainforest. If you’re trying to engage the kids, why not take advantage of the activity packs on the day’s website and distribute these to your friends and families for a day of fun-fuelled activities.

If you’re looking for the opportunity to make a lifestyle change, this day is also the chance to make eco-friendly choices to help save the future of our rainforest. For instance, deforestation due to agriculture is a big part of the rainforest reduction. Why not work to reduce your food waste by making sure you’re only purchasing and using what you need? Buying goods from ethical companies that donate to the environment is also a sure-fire way to ensure its protection.