Anarchy in the Rainforests
The world's rainforests are slipping into a state of anarchy, and for the most part those tasked with doing something about it are failing. In particular, big conservation organizations and governments are failing to conceive, develop and implement policies sufficient to address this global ecological crisis.
Everywhere large, ancient rainforests exist – massive illegal logging operations and other industrial activities threaten their existence. Yet most mainstream conservation organizations insist that certified first time logging of such primary forests will conserve them – a statement that flies against all scientific knowledge and on the ground experience. Out of control timber mafias threaten the very existence of large rainforests worldwide. Should illegal logging be stopped, or reformed? Can it be reformed?
A new report indicates huge trade in stolen timber products from West Papua, Indonesia to China. An American born Brazilian nun was murdered last week for working with forest peoples on behalf of sustainable development in Brazil's Para state. A new international treaty aimed at protecting the rainforests of the Congo Basin promotes industrial logging, ignores local people's rights, would do nothing about corruption, and continues to support human rights abuses in protected areas.
Everywhere it is occurring industrial rainforest logging is failing; failing to sustain ecological systems, failing to bring benefits to local peoples, failing to show merit or chance of redemption. Yet the WWFs of the world insist commercial scale sustainable forest management of ancient rainforests is possible and desirable. Even groups such as Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network are imprecise regarding under what conditions certified commercial logging of primary forests is acceptable.
What is the basis for such a policy when over 50% of the world's rainforests have been lost, and there are very few if any cases of ecologically sustainable old-growth forest management? Such sentiment is based upon a desire to be perceived as being reasonable; to be seen as doing something, anything, even if it is not enough; and to not challenge those in power. This is not a basis for a successful movement. Perhaps slavery and/or Nazism could have been reformed as well?
The global rainforest movement must seek to be correct in identifying and achieving ecological requirements sufficient for global forest and ecological sustainability. The failure of the rainforest conservation movement to enunciate a powerful message of conserving and protecting all rainforests from industrial development dooms rainforests to anarchy and loss. The world and our movement can do better. Rainforest crime must be stopped, not made a little bit less bad.