Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Forest Conservation: A New Look

   It hasn’t been a debate for sometime, logging is bad for biodiversity and the environment. Climate regulation, forest fires and mudslides are only a few of the issues brought forth by logging. But when trying to protect the forests of our world have we missed something?
    An article by Fred Pearce would suggest so. Pearce says that conservation efforts are too narrow. As of now most efforts are to protect areas of forest that have yet to be logged, but in the 21st century that number is minute in comparison with the areas that have been logged. Pearce references a study done that showed that logged forests still contain 75% of the original biodiversity. While this number is sadly low and any loss of biodiversity is a tragedy and danger to our environment we cannot let that 75% go unnoticed.
    Conservation efforts need to expand to include logged forests or we will lose the surviving biodiversity that lives there. In fact, Pearce cites one example in Indonesia where previously logged forest is being turned into a “palm oil farm.” This could not be worse for biodiversity, as a regrowing or damaged forest has exponentially more potential for biodiversity than a contained and managed area like a farm.
    In Brazil, the most significant damage from logging comes after the trees have been cut. The roads opened up by loggers are left behind, creating a new flow of traffic deep into forests. People can now easily get into parts of forests that had once been impossible to reach with a car. People claim this land through “land thievery” and the destruction begins again. Much the same as the palm oil farm would inhibit the growth to biodiversity the “land thieves” are doing the same thing, turning it into soy bean farms or using it for illegal lumber.
    It is important to expand forest conservation efforts to protect not only untouched forests but also previously logged forests. There is simply too much biodiversity left to ignore and with an ever expanding amount of logged forest and an ever dwindling amount of untouched forest, the time to act is now.

Here is a short audio clip about deforestation from NPR.

Further Reading:
Biodiversity in Logged Forests Far Higher Than Once Believed
Environmental Impacts of Logging
Logging in the Amazon
Farming the Amazon

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