Global Campaign to Protect and Restore Old Forests Gaining Traction

February 9, 2010

RELEASE: Global Campaign to Protect and Restore Old Forests Gaining Traction

Campaigns to end industrial primary rainforest logging in Papua New Guinea and Madagascar based upon ecological science, and meant to end corruption and ecological harm

By Earth’s Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet (EI)
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

Ecological Internet’s (EI) ongoing campaigns in Madagascar [1] and Papua New Guinea [2] (PNG) to end primary forest logging [search] (please continue to take action below), is part of EI’s global network’s campaign to globally protect and restore old forests. Ecological science reveals forest and other terrestrial ecosystem destruction to be a primary cause of climate change, biodiversity loss, water and soil degradation, and social disintegration. Yet forest policy-makers, including major environmental groups, continue to assert “sustainable forest management” and “FSC certified” logging of primary and old-growth forest logging is possible and desirable. They are wrong, as ecologically intact old forests are vital components of Earth’s biosphere and are the optimal land cover to absorb and hold carbon long-term, while maintaining biodiversity and operable ecosystems, and the Earth System.

The term “old forests” is used to encompass primary unlogged forests, late successional natural regrowth, and planted mixed-species forests regaining old-growth characteristics. Forests logged industrially for the first time are permanently ecologically damaged in terms of composition, structure, function and dynamics. It is becoming abundantly clear that ending industrial diminishment and working for the full protection and restoration of old forests are a keystone response to climate change (to say nothing of biodiversity, ecosystem, water and poverty crises). More of the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – and old forests in particular – have already been lost and diminished than required to maintain an operable climate, all species and a fully operable biosphere.

“As an ecological scientist, with over 20 years of studying the roles of old forests within the global Earth System, I can say with virtual certainty that protecting and restoring old forests – both in the tropics and temperate/boreal regions – is a keystone response to the climate, biodiversity, water and food crises,” states Dr. Glen Barry, President of Ecological Internet. “Ecologists know keeping old forests’ stored carbon in place, continuing new carbon sequestration, and keeping these ancient forests from burning and becoming a massive carbon source is best served by avoiding fragmentation associated with selective logging; while allowing planted and secondary natural forests to regain late successional characteristics.”

Madagascar is down to its last biodiverse rainforest remnants amongst a sea of poverty. There will be no chance of national advancement if final logging of rare rosewood continues. PNG contains Earth’s third largest remaining rainforest tracts, yet the country is mid-boom with huge areas being logged without landowner prior and informed consent. In both cases corruption endemic to the tropical timber trade – and conservationists unwillingness to take a stand against old forest logging – are dooming these millions of year old primeval ecosystems to be lost forever. It is questionable whether the Earth System will function and whether the Earth will remain habitable without these ecosystems. EI reiterates its position that any government, company, NGO or person espousing falsehood primary forests and other old forests should be industrially logged is killing Earth and is legitimate protest target.

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Over past years ecological science has learned much regarding the importance of primary forests in regard to avoiding the worst climate change scenarios. Contrary to conventional thought, intact old forests continue to act as a major sink for new carbon, as some 20% of industrial emissions were found to be ending up in primary tropical forests. Another found that when old forests are industrially logged for the first time they lose at least 40% of their carbon immediately, and are unlikely to ever fully recover their carbon holding potential. Untouched forests and their soils were found to hold 60% more carbon than replacement plantations.

By finding a way to fully protect old forests, you keep the long-term stored carbon that would be released out of the atmosphere (about 20% of emissions) AND you remove 20% of the remaining 80% from fossil fuels. You avoid the 40% immediate loss from logging, and greatly decrease the probability of full carbon loss from fires. That is a net swing of at least 35% of anthropocentric carbon being kept or removed from the atmosphere by protecting and restoring old forests. Finding the will to end old forest logging, and ingenuity to allow local peoples and governments to benefit economically from standing old forests, would appear to be second only to ending use of coal as a one shot action to address climate change. Let’s together make it so.

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[1] Protest Madagascar’s Legalization of Rosewood Log Export from Protected National Parks

[2] PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Logging Violence and Corruption Flare in Ramu, Madang’s Mighty Rainforests

Donate to Ramu/Sogeram Landowners Resisting RH & primary rainforest logging:

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