Why We Support Limited Harvesting of Endangered Tree Species

The harvesting of trees, even endangered ones, is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are many misconceptions concerning the role that deforestation plays in our world, and we hope to clear up some of them.

October, 2019

Let me first state that I am not trying to support the lumber industry with this position. I think they have been a major part of the problem and are offering no solutions. My position is practical. If we ban all harvesting of these endangered species, we will create a black market and criminal gangs will take over this trade. You just have to look at the war on drugs over the past 40 years in the US and ask if it was successful. There is also the matter of aboriginal communities who own the forests and live in them and live from them. Having a sustainable forestry operation that they control and own, will provide them income and reduce their need to cut down the forest to grow crops or raise livestock for income. They have a right to feed themselves and their families and they have lived in these areas for centuries. These species are not endangered because of them and they have a greater understanding and respect for their forests than we generally do.

My position is that we help them do it legally and sustainable, help them reduce waste, help them develop their own plantations as well as fight back against poachers. We can also help them identify and inventory the endangered species in their forests to learn more, protect them and educate everyone. There is a level of harvesting that can match the natural growth rate, and we can look for ways to increase the growth rate. We have no control over these communities if they decide to legally harvest some of their endangered species. So it is better if we help them do it in a way to reduce waste, make sure we have a sustainable plan and help them sell as direct as possible to the market. The more money they get from the sale, the less they have to sell. We can only monitor and influence these situations if we are involved and helping them.

What I do not support is business as usual. Lumber companies all talk about being sustainable and being supportive of environmental issues, but most are actually not doing anything except spending money on marketing. Enforcement of CITES has to be increased and lumber companies that do nothing have to be held to account. They have profited the most from harvesting and selling these species and very few if any have ever been involved in replanting them. That has to change, and it will only happen when their customers insist on it. So if you buy endangered woods, or exotic woods, ask questions and ask them about specific projects, species and locations of where they are replanting. That can be checked and verified. If they cannot answer or give vague answers like “we only deal with reliable suppliers who do the right thing” then you know they are doing nothing, but want you to think otherwise.

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