Let Rainforest Action Network Know Global Ecological Sustainability Depends Upon Ending Old Forest Logging
By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet – March 13, 2010
Rainforest Action Network is a key supporter of failed Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) efforts to “sustainably” log tens of millions of hectares of primary and old-growth forests for lawn furniture, toilet paper and other throw-away consumer items. As RAN celebrates its 25th anniversary, let them know old forests will never be fully protected as long as they and others unquestioningly support “certified” yet ecologically unsustainable first-time industrial primary rainforest logging. Demand RAN vigorously defend their support for first-time primary rainforest logging over an area two times as large as Texas, or resign from FSC immediately. Encourage RAN to spend the next 25 years working to protect and expand old forests to maintain a habitable Earth.
Old forests including tropical rainforests are the ultimate expression of life, evolution and ecology. The term “old forests” is used to describe primary unlogged forests, regenerating late successional natural old-growth, and planted mixed-species forests regaining old-growth characteristics. Here untold co-evolved species and genetic diversity exist and interact with each other and their environment to provide ecosystem services – water, nutrient and energy cycling – required for a habitable Earth. Forests logged industrially for the first time are permanently ecologically damaged in terms of composition, structure, function and dynamics. When primary forests are lost or diminished, it is inevitable that local ecological and social conditions deteriorate, regional weather and species distributions deviate, and the global biosphere and its ability to maintain conditions for life are weakened.
The forest protection movement, like many social justice movements before it, is at a crossroads. The slavery abolitionists had to choose between improving conditions for slaves or pursuing their freedom. American revolutionaries chose between greater autonomy under continued British colonialism or to fight for full freedom and liberty. Similarly, the forest movement has to decide whether we want to work to fully protect and restore old carbon and species rich forests as a keystone response to achieve global ecological sustainability, or continue to log – in only a slightly better manner – 500 year old trees in 60 million year old ecosystems for disposable consumer products. By definition, primary forests are destroyed.
Since 1993 best estimates are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has sanctioned the logging of sixty million hectares of primary and old-growth forests, and an equal amount is threatened in coming years. But no one really knows the full extent of the problem as FSC does not compile how many old forests it certifies for first time heavy industrial logging. This means FSC and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) are responsible for the past and threatened loss of about 460,000 square miles of primary and other old forests – an area the size of South Africa, or nearly two times the size of Texas. FSC has not responded to numerous requests to gather more accurate figures, when directly questioned FSC board members say they do not know, and even RAN who is a member was not provided this information.
In light of current and emerging ecosystem, biodiversity and climate science; as well as evident abrupt climate change and the ongoing biodiversity extinction crises, it is clear that FSC certification for primary and old-growth logging – except under specific circumstances such as small scale community eco-forestry practiced by local peoples – is one of the primary threats to old forests. This is particularly true when many other certification schemes and business as usual industrial rainforest logging make competing claims of sustainability. Internationally, forest carbon efforts – such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) – build upon the falsehood that logging primary forests, even establishing plantations where they once stood, is a desired outcome. In most countries it is impossible to suggest old forest logging end and development be based upon standing old forests, as the response is they are to be “sustainably” logged. It is becoming abundantly clear that ending industrial diminishment and working for the full protection and restoration of old forests are keystone responses to the climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem, water and poverty crises.
If RAN can target others for damaging the environment, then clearly their own involvement in such massive and unexplained logging of ancient forests is worthy of a campaign and deserves a reasoned response. Past protests have been shrugged off and twice RAN reneged on promises to get FSC to address the problem. RAN’s former executive director – who never thought it necessary to publicly defend their position – now heads the Sierra Club, another FSC supporter, and the controversy follows him there. Both organizations are already taking a strong and successful ecological position on coal, why not old forests? Sierra Club founder John Muir – who long defended a preservationist ethic against utilitarian conservationist approaches – is assuredly rolling in his grave. There is no chance old forest logging will ever end until otherwise ecologically attuned groups like RAN and the Sierra Club discontinue their FSC membership. Please demand these leading organizations vigorously defend their positions and resign from FSC immediately.
Written by laudyms
March 13, 2010 at 8:29 am
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