The tropical timber industry and its international backers have long clung to the notion that selective logging of timber is a form of sustainable forest management, and preferable to the total loss of forest through clearance for agriculture. In actual fact, logging has rarely proved to be sustainable, as most operations have relied almost entirely on ‘mining’ of old growth forests for a limited range of tree species, meaning the industry is thus reliant on converting concessions to other uses such as commercial plantations or opening up new areas of previously unlogged forest. Even where logging is selective, the roads required to transport the timber can lead to a ‘cascade of deforestation’ as illegal loggers, farmers and poachers move in.
Whilst it is claimed the industry provides jobs, income, infrastructure and development in remote rural areas, the truth is that logging work is often poorly paid, dangerous and temporary. The logging industry is known to be rife with illegalities, social conflicts, and deeply corrupting of political institutions, whilst benefits in the form of taxes are often meagre, especially given the vast forest area it covers.
Any expansion of industrial logging in tropical forests would be accompanied by many extremely serious problems, and few lasting benefits. Instead, the industry should be scaled back to a level where it can be properly regulated and forests increasingly brought under the control of local and indigenous communities.
What we're doing
- Together with our partners, RFUK addresses industrial logging at different levels. Locally, we support communities to understand their rights, negotiate with timber companies and monitor their forests with our ForestLink technology, increasing transparency and reducing illegalities in these areas.
- Nationally, we research the direct and indirect impacts of logging and shine a light on poor forest governance. In DRC, this has led to the cancellation of dozens of illegal concessions and a national logging moratorium, preventing as much as 70 million hectares of forest being opened up to the logging industry.
- Our community forest programme provides an innovative and scalable alternative to industrial forest uses that is founded on the rights and needs of forest dwellers.