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REDD + and the myth of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’

REDD + and the myth of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’


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Currently, everyone practices a ‘Sustainable Forest Management’. Even the Malaysian company Rimbunan Hijau, one of the world's most destructive logging companies (2), claims on its website that it practices 'Sustainable Forest Management' and that by “investing in tree plantations” the company “contributes to make Malaysia greener ”(3). Companies continue to promote the idea that monoculture plantations can be 'sustainable'. Rimbunan Hijau even says that he "plants forests". The UN itself also considers industrial tree plantations to be forests. This is simply a glaring mistake. Plantations are not forests. Forests contain diverse networks of life and plantations lack biodiversity and have polluted soils and waterways. This endangers indigenous communities and all those who depend on forests, as well as exacerbating the problem of climate change.

As Patrick Alley of the NGO Global WitnessIn a recent talk, the term ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ is a “nasty little euphemism” (4). The timber industry has managed to present itself as a practically philanthropic company, which brings jobs and development. Alley explains that “the industrial logging industry in the tropics can be divided into two categories: criminal and legitimate. The criminal is criminal. And the legitimate one is almost the same, but with better public relations ”.

The lumber industry has had a lot of help to pull off this perfect crime, as Alley describes it. Constant logging in the tropics has even been encouraged with taxpayer money. For nine years until June 2011, the World Bank invested US $ 4.1 billion in the logging sector. A 2013 review by the Independent Evaluation Group found that these projects have generally failed to reverse poverty or benefit local communities (5).

Unsurprisingly, the Bank's management rejected the criticism and the World Bank money continues to arrive (6). In August 2013, the Bank announced that it was distributing US $ 31.83 million for “Sustainable and participatory forest management” in Laos (7). This is a country whose forests have been devastated by illegal logging, which shows no signs of stopping until the last forest is cut down (8). However, instead of supporting initiatives to surround criminals who carry out illegal logging, the World Bank is spending even more money on little more than green makeup to keep logging going.

A video on industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, made by Global Witness, shows the effects of this activity in the country, which has the support of the World Bank and international donors (9). Over and over again, communities spoke of the exploiters, the damage they caused to ecosystems and their livelihoods and livelihoods, the lack of benefits for them, and the increase in conflict and violence. It is impossible not to see the contradiction between the ‘Forest Management’ programs that claim to reduce deforestation, and the social and environmental destruction caused by the logging industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Recent research conducted by scientists at Lancaster University reveals that the impact of 'selective logging' and crown [tree] fires or aerial fires in the Amazon has been underestimated. (10) The NGO Greenpeace names logging in the Amazon as "The silent crisis", because criminals launder illegal timber making it appear legal, with official documentation (11). Advocates of ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ argue that this can be achieved by removing only a few species of trees and leaving the rest of the forest ‘standing’. But, although the term "selective" logging sounds more benevolent than that of "indiscriminate logging," in reality, larger areas of forests are being affected. This has huge implications for REDD +, since Sustainable Forest Management is one of the parts within the 'plus' of REDD.

On the other hand, another recent study in East Kalimantan revealed that there is no difference between the carbon emissions of logging operations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and those of conventional logging concessions. In 2009, FSC formed a Forest Carbon Working Group, which in November 2012 developed a “strategic framework of FSC's commitments to climate change” (12). One of these objectives is for FSC to be recognized as a credible forest carbon capture and conservation system in order for participants to bid for FSC certification. However, FSC has a controversial track record (13), as a result of certifying monoculture tree plantations and destructive logging operations, as well as its failure to make its certification bodies count for anything.

In 2011, Professors Bradshaw and Laurence co-produced a paper entitled “Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity”, which was published in the journal Nature (14). Laurence wrote on the ALERTA website that, "Indonesia alone has at least 35 million hectares of selectively logged forests - an area larger than Germany - and much of this logged forest is unprotected and used for agriculture" ( fifteen). Bradshaw for his part said in an interview that, “It is crazy to consider that there is logging with 'lower emissions', since the forests intervened, regardless of the disturbance, are never able to retain as much carbon or biodiversity as forests primary ”(16).

Therefore, Sustainable Forest Management implies the expansion and legitimacy of commercial logging activities on an industrial scale in tropical forests.

World Rainforest Movement


Video: The Lost Forests of New England - Eastern Old Growth (May 2022).