Written by Mat McDermott
You can have one of the two, but not both: Either you can commercially cut down trees in a tropical rainforest that has minimal impact on the ecology of the forest, or you can cut down trees in a way that is profitable, at the expense of the forest. That’s the word from a new study in Bioscience.
Mongabay has its usually thorough account of why this is the case, but the gist of it is as follows.
We know that clear-cutting rainforests, either for logging or converting them to agricultural purposes is bad. But even so-called low impact logging actually has a significant impact on the ecology of a rainforest. Doing so generally leaves 20-50% of the forest canopy open, which increases the risk of fire (otherwise naturally very rare) and changes the composition of the forest in negative ways.
Truly sustainable logging of a rainforest can be done, the report argues, but it would radically reduce the profitability of the effort. Less than five trees per hectare could be cut, only once every 60 years or more, thereby leaving smaller gaps in the canopy. Young trees would have to be avoided entirely. New seedlings would have to be planted in place of those taken.
This post was originally published by TreeHugger.
Photo: Sam Beebe/flickr