Edited by David Pearce, Corin Pearce and Charles Palmer
Chapter 17: Is sustainable forestry economically possible?
David Pearce, Francis Putz and Jerome K. Vanclay 1 THE ISSUE Concern about the rate at which the world’s forests are being depleted is widespread. Recent international calls for radical eﬀorts to reduce deforestation include the United Nations Intergovernmental Forum on Forests of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) and the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (1999). This concern reﬂects an appreciation of the ecological and economic functions of forests: as providers of timber and many non-timber products, as the habitat for much of the world’s biological diversity, and as regulators of local, regional and global environments. These functions are at risk. Most of the forest clearance is in areas of high forest cover and high human population pressure in tropical areas for agriculture. In temperate and boreal areas the pressures from logging are more important. But, in all areas, forestry itself has an important role to play both as a partial cause of deforestation and, if practised wisely, as a potential source of salvation for at least some of the world’s forests. In terms of its causal role, forestry tends to open up primary forest areas, enabling colonists to move in, using roads forged by the timber companies. In some parts of the world, forests are converted not to agriculture but to biomass plantations of fast-growing trees or to other agroindustries based on tree crop plantations such as palm oil and rubber. Here the primary agent is not the peasant, but the richer elements...
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