HARVESTING TREES = HARVESTING LIFE?

A Look at the Impacts of Logging

With world population increasing at the rate of knots, demand for wooden products is increasing as well. In order to meet the demand, an increased number of trees are being logged around the globe. However, logging results in the loss of natural benefits associated with trees. In particular, trees provide nesting sites for birds, foods for all living beings, carbon sequestration and natural beauty to a location. Thus, there is a need to address the issue of logging.


What use are the logged trees?

Wood is a non-conductor of electricity and a poor heat conductor. These properties allow for its use in several applications and thus trees are logged:



  • Pulp and paper industry: companies use wood as raw materials to produce pulp, paper and other glucose-based products.
  • Furniture industry: brands like IKEA and Huppe make use of wood from trees to manufacture beds, sofas, tables and so on.
  • Sports goods: as most sports involve use of wooden equipment (e.g. bats, rackets etc), the wood used to make them comes from logged trees.
  • Lumber: wood from trees is used as the primary and sometimes as a supporting material in construction.
  • Others: boats, ships, musical instruments, home, work and school utensils.



DID U KNOW?

- Wood produces an estimated 5000 commercial products.

- Total world consumption of wood is 3500 million cubic meters.

- 91% of paper is made from wood worldwide.






What impacts does logging have?

  • In the clear-cutting method of logging, no importance is given to sustainability but rather the focus is on economic gain. This practice can transform a green forest into a wasteland in no time.


  • Forests are suitable habitats for certain species. Destroying the forest would force animal species to migrate. In the process, due to competition for food and resources, weak species might go extinct.


  • Forests act as buffers, filtering water and holding the soil in place. When these buffers are removed, it changes the dynamics of the area. For example, drought conditions during dry seasons while flooding during wet seasons. This makes it an unsuitable land as a habitat.


  • Less trees mean that the rate of carbon sequestration is lowered. This process is explained in the video below.



DID U KNOW?

- According to a World Bank estimation, forest products are a $270 billion/year business.

- Brazil has the highest annual rate of deforestation.

- On average, because of loss of forest habitats, 137 species become extinct everyday.


Carbon Sequestration 101

What have we planned to sustain forest trees? Any further steps to ensure trees are not logged?

  • Silviculture: this is a sustainable method of harvesting trees. Silviculture uses the method of shelter-wood cutting whereby a forest is partially cut over time to remove an entire forest, but gradually. This gives time to trees to regenerate and form a new forest.
  • Federal governments need to review the regulations on logging and they must ensure that anyone who violates these rules is prosecuted. Governments should create a task force that determines how much logging can be done while sustaining the forests.
  • Other easy steps:
  1. Use both sides of paper when writing, printing, photo-copying etc.
  2. Read newspaper and magazines online.
  3. Buy products made from recycled paper.
  4. Only buy wooden items that are certified (i.e the wood was cut legally).
  5. If an item is packaged using a wood chip, do not buy it and let the seller know that you are not buying because of the wood chips.
  • Following video highlights some methods that can be used for sustainable forestry:



Sustainable Logging
In conclusion, it would not be wrong to say that wood from trees is an essential part of human life whether it be in the form of furniture, paper or infrastructure. However, given the natural benefits of trees, unsustainable logging should not be permitted. For a more sustained use of trees, methods like Silviculture logging should be used that allow trees to regenerate. In addition, everyone needs to contribute by using both sides of paper, buying products made from certified wood and reading papers online.