The Myth of Selective Logging: Carbon and Regeneration
The American Scientist presents a good review of the science behind the environmental assessment of selective logging in ancient forests. Many important scientific and policy points are made which fly in the face of industry and mainstream environmental rhetoric that “sustainable logging” (usually mixed with additional vague assurances such logging is selective, ecosystem based, follows best management practices, or has been certified) has environmental benefits and can contribute appreciably to forest conservation in the world's remaining large primary forest wildlands.
Carbon storage in selectively logged forests has been shown in numerous studies to be appreciably reduced (from 25-70%). It has also been found that tropical forests take much longer to regenerate than generally accepted – in many cases hundreds of years, far longer than most “sustainable logging” operation's cutting cycles.
The potential for truly reduced-impact logging, what I call “eco-forestry” that is not large scale or industrial, to surgically remove individual trees maintaining ancient forest composition, dynamics and structure is noted. But in reality such codes are rarely followed.
The reality is that after decades of efforts to support “sustainable forestry” in ancient rainforests in particular, selective eco-forestry logging practices have not caught on, and the highly intensive and extensive industrial selective logging that occurs remains problematic in terms of carbon storage and regeneration. Indeed, “'careful' or 'sustainable' logging have had next to no discernible impact despite years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investment.”
Where is the science that supports Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Sierra Club, ForestEthics, Tides Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and others promoting “sustainable forestry” in the Amazon, Congo and Canada's Boreal Forests? Their feel good conservation sell-out has no science – just money and power and being seen as effective even as they abet the final dismantling of the Earth's terrestrial biosphere. An environmental crime is occurring.