Outrageous support by big environmental groups for first-time industrial logging of primary and old-growth rainforest wildernesses based upon vague claims that FSC certification makes it sustainable, well-managed and now even "carbon positive" is a big lie and must end
By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet – March 5, 2008
Caption: Ancient rainforest timbers belong in primary rainforest canopies, not consumer products (link) Many of the world’s largest environmental groups continue to support Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) "certified" industrial logging of the world’s last primary and old-growth forests. They have fallen for, and now espouse, the big lie that first time logging of ancient forests containing centuries old trees can be done in an ecologically well-managed and sustainable manner. This is not a minor policy difference: whether and when old-growth logging ends will critically determine the likelihood of the Earth’s climate, species, ecosystems and human livelihoods being maintained.
Claims that FSC certified old-growth logging protects biodiversity and ecosystems have increasingly been called into question on the basis of ecological science, lax certifying organizations’ conflicts of interest and a litany of questionable certifications. Outrageously now the "forests liars" — FSC with the endorsement of the World Bank and member NGOs — claim certified logging of primary forests has carbon benefits and deserves to be compensated in the carbon market. Despite no mention of carbon balances in FSC rules, logging companies and carbon offset projects are claiming FSC certification makes them "carbon positive".
Selective first time old-growth logging permanently changes forest composition, structure and dynamics. Individual trees being exploited in primary stands are often hundreds of years old. Is killing centuries old trees compatible with "sustainable" exploitation of forests? Nearly all rainforest canopy species are dispersed by large birds and mammals which disappear after logged forests are made accessible to hunters. After the adults of such tree species are harvested, there are few juveniles to take their places. These high value hardwoods grow very slowing, taking many decades or even centuries to mature, yet economics require 20-30 year harvest cycles. Given this lack of regeneration, most rainforest tree species cannot be sustainably managed.
Ancient forest logging always entails a net carbon loss. Timber harvest lowers forest biomass as the largest trees with the most carbon are harvested. Thirty percent or more of the carbon quickly returns to the atmosphere as limbs, branches, roots, leaves and bark decompose at the felling site. More is lost as sawdust during milling. Finally the finished product, often containing less than 50% of the original carbon, is incorporated into construction, furniture, etc. for undetermined periods, but eventually even this carbon returns to the atmosphere. If left undisturbed the forest could become a net carbon sink as it recovers the biomass lost in the harvest operation, yet, this is rarely the case. Fragmented, open canopied, dry forests as the result of selective logging are also much more likely to burn releasing huge amounts of carbon. Once logged primary forests’ future carbon removal and storage is permanently diminished and will never recover.
Ancient rainforest logging and other industrial development that destroy and diminish primary forests is a planetary social and ecological disease that destroys biodiversity, causes climate change and contributes greatly to the chances of the Earth’s ecological collapse. Global ecological sustainability depends critically upon strictly protecting all remaining relatively natural ecosystems, particularly primary forests,which hold and continue to remove vast amounts of carbon that otherwise would be in the atmosphere. Those suggesting otherwise, and falsely suggesting they are protecting ancient forests by advocating for them to be cut down, are dangerous charlatans and will not be tolerated any longer. Solving climate change depends critically upon protecting and restoring expansive natural terrestrial ecosystems free from all industrial activity.
We must continue pressuring all forest liars; including big NGOs, governments, companies and consumers supporting ill-gotten certified timber, that are contributing to destruction of the world’s last ancient forests. Please join us in calling upon Greenpeace, WWF, Rainforest Action Network, NRDC, Forest Ethics, Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Alliance to immediately end their support for first time logging of primary and old-growth forests. These groups must withdraw from FSC, commit to working to end ancient forest logging as a keystone response to the biodiversity and climate change crises, and support local sustainable community development based upon standing and intact forests. And let them know that should they fail to do so, that protest will continue until they are either shamed into changing their policies or loss of membership puts them out of business.