Brazil nuts

Wouldn’t it be great to reduce the horrible climate-changing emissions from Brazil’s massive steel industry? Hmmm… how to do that? Hey, let’s chop down a vast amount of native forests, in one of the most sensitive environments on earth, and feed the wood into the steel furnaces as charcoal! Because wood burning is like so green, man… what could possibly go wrong?

“Analysts who proposed the switch had not thought through the implications of the new energy source, meaning a plan aimed at improving the environment did more harm than good … caused significant deforestation of native forests for charcoal production … doubled Brazil’s carbon emissions … according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.”

But to look on the optimistic side, globally the ongoing destruction of forest in nations like Indonesia, Brazil and Paraguay is becoming the exception rather than the rule. Tropical logging continues, but The Economist reported in 2014 that while…

“It would be too much to say that forests have made a full recovery … the crisis is passing and the prognosis is starting to improve. Fears that the great forests of the Congo would be cleared have proved unfounded so far. Brazil and Mexico have reduced their deforestation rates by well over two-thirds. India and Costa Rica have done more than reduce the rate of loss: they are replanting areas that were once clear-cut.”

Many nations around the world are also doing serious work in re-planting and conserving. Even in Indonesia…

“the annual tree average cover loss reached its lowest point recorded since 2003, WRI found, at 3.9 million acres.” (World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch, 2015)

Nature is also lending a huge hand, as increased carbon dioxide levels help green the earth. I also note that there’s a new research network to find out how fast and well tropical wood-production forests recover after logging. The network’s lead researchers suspect that regularly logged forests, because disturbed and opened up to sunlight, even have interesting dynamic short-term ecologies as they grow back. Ecologies that western naturalists haven’t yet recognised, let alone studied…

“Logged tropical forests [the lead researchers in the network write] are diverse and provide a multitude of important ecosystem services — increasing the urgency to focus conservation strategies on them.”

The network, two and a half years into its work and with hundreds of test plots, also appears to be at the forefront of a movement dedicated to working out how to do sustainable logging in tropical forests. Wildlife corridors and local healthcare (people with medical bills are prone to eco-crime to pay them) are two things that can also help protect partly logged forests.

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