Solutions to deforestation
Among the organisations seeking to minimise the impact of commercial logging on the world's forests is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is a non-profit organisation which was founded in 1993 to provide an independent certification of timber from well-managed forests. With an internationally recognised trademark that was launched in 1996, the FSC enables responsible consumers to identify those timber products which have originated from sustainable sources. Because the FSC has members from every sphere associated with the timber industry, such as environmental institutions, the timber trade, the forestry profession and indigenous peoples' organisations, it has been able to lay down ten principles and criteria, adherence to which will ensure that logging will not exceed the capacities of the forests concerned, allowing long-term sustainable harvesting. On a global scale, more than 8 million hectares of forest have been certified to the FSC's exacting standards.
Regions of rain forest which are deemed too sensitive even for well managed logging can be designated as protected areas, and together with suitably enforced legislation this can be an effective defence against many of the problems affecting rain forests.
Perhaps the most important step is to educate and inform those people whose actions, either directly or indirectly, pose a threat to the forests. Indigenous people can be helped by WWF and other conservation organisations to make the very best use of their natural resources - and at the other end of the scale, consumers in developed countries have to understand the increasingly damaging impacts of the forest products they buy. That is why WWF advises them of the alternatives available, and encourages them to make informed decisions about their lifestyles. Only in this way will we be able to stop, and eventually reverse, the degradation of the tropical rain forests.
photo by WWF-UK