Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deforestation Helps to Drive Up Wood Prices

Deforestation in Kerala, India
Earth’s forests are being cleared on a massive scale, making deforestation one of the prime environmental issues of our time. Rain forests once grew over fourteen (14%) percent of the planet’s land mass. Satellite imagery shows that they now cover a mere six (6%) percent. Throwing the soft wood boreal forests of Russia, Scandinavia and Canada into the mix, forests still cover some thirty (30%) percent of the Earth’s land area. However, deforestation on a planetary scale means that an area the size of Panama, Maine or South Carolina is cut down every year. The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation. At present, annual afforestation and reforestation efforts account for barely ten (10%) percent of what is being cut down every year. To add insult to injury, deforestation is a leading cause of climate change, global warming, soil erosion and landslides. Seventy (70%) percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their habitat.

Rain Forest Deforestation in Mexico
Deforestation is driving climate change. Normal forest soil is moist, but once trees are cut the soil quickly dries out. This is why NGO’s like Weforest stress the importance of cloud seeding by forests. Trees help to perpetuate the water cycle by extracting ground water through their roots and then sending the water as vapour back into the atmosphere. When a forest is removed the trees no longer evaporate away the water, resulting in a much drier climate. Deforestation has a direct impact on groundwater, the water content of soil and atmospheric moisture. Without trees, areas that were once forested may quickly become barren deserts, because the tree canopy blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds the heat at night. Once trees are removed, extreme temperature swings occur that are harmful to humans, plants and animals. Needless to say tropical trees play a critical role in carbon sequestration, absorbing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Deforestation means more CO2 gets stuck in the atmosphere, raising global temperatures and causing damaging climate change at a more rapid rate. CO2 Tropical Trees is planting trees to fight that type of climate change.

Afforestation in Vichada, Colombia
According to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agriculture is a primary cause of deforestation. UNFCCC estimates that subsistence farming is responsible for forty-eight (48%) percent of deforestation, commercial agriculture for another thirty-two (32%) percent of deforestation, trailed by commercial logging at fourteen (14%) percent and fuel wood harvesting at five (5%) percent of global deforestation. One might think that all of this deforestation should make hardwood prices cheap, but the reality is that more and more governments are restricting legal cutting and protecting more and more areas of old growth forest and biodiversity. This means that plantation trees are becoming an increasingly important way of meeting world demand for lumber, as well as a vital link in the fight against climate change. This makes a lot of sense when one considers that natural forests yield only 1 to 2 cubic meters of wood per hectare, while managed plantations yield at least 10 cubic meters of lumber per hectare. The bottom line is that those with a “green investment” in tropical trees are going to do exceedingly well, as natural sources of lumber continue to decline. Amazonia Reforestation is the best place to make that green investment.