Outlook Worsens for World’s Forests

By David L. Brown

There is horrible news today for those of us who had been led to believe that large portions of the planet’s forests were under the protection of sound stewardship. According to a news report from the Associated Press, of the two-thirds of the world’s forests that are supposed to be under responsible management or protection, most are in fact at risk. Here’s the lede, with the key graf in bold:

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Almost all the world’s tropical forests remain effectively unprotected even though two-thirds have been designated for some sort of preservation over the past two decades, according to a report released Thursday.

The study of tropical forest management by the International Tropical Timber Organization surveyed 2 billion acres – two-thirds of the world’s tropical forests – in 33 countries.

All of those forests were designated by the governments and landowners overseeing them as being under “sustainable management,” meaning they were completely protected as conservation areas, or designated as sites where economic activities such as logging were only allowed if they didn’t destroy the forest.

However, the group said that what it called “the most extensive survey ever” found that less than 5 percent of these forests were managed in a sustainable way last year. Read it all.

Humankind appears to be at war with nature, and in serious danger of winning. Total victory over nature will mean the end of humanity, so it’s a battle we do not really want to win. The problem is that what affects humanity as a whole does not concern individuals who see a chance to turn a profit from the destruction of a natural resource, such as a forest.

You and I may look at a forest as a thing of beauty, but exploiters see only logs, lumber, toothpicks and chopsticks. No, that’s wrong—what they actually see is money. And sad to say, those whose jobs it is to protect the environment are all too often paid off to look the other way. Greed and corruption are the norm, it seems, and the rape and pillage of our environment continues.

The ongoing destruction of the Earth’s forests is an ecological disaster beyond comprehension. Forests are the “lungs” of our planet, mediating the movement of moisture between land, sea and sky and refreshing our atmosphere with the oxygen that sustains animal life.
What can YOU do to help stop the destruction of forests? One thing is to learn more about the problem. A place to start is on this website for the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that strives to certify wood products as having been produced through approved, sustainable methods. Here is a summary of the Council’s goals:

In many forests around the world, logging still contributes to habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against people who work in the forest and the wildlife that dwells there. Many consumers of wood and paper, and many forest products companies believe that the link between logging and these negative impacts can be broken, and that forests can be managed and protected at the same time. Forest Stewardship Council certification is one way to improve the practice of forestry.

As always, it helps to speak out. Contact your Congressman and Senators to express your concern for forest loss. And, you may want to support the International Tropical Timber Organization, the Forest Stewardship Council and other groups as a volunteer or through donations. If enough of us act and speak out, our actions and voices may begin to be recognized.

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