World Rainforest Movement

ITTO moving to tree plantations?

B.C.Y Freezailah, executive director of the International Tropical Timber Organization compared in Tokyo sustainable management of tropical forests with tree plantations and concluded that tropical forestry will need to switch to tree plantations.

He stated that ‘tropical timbers from natural forests are increasingly facing competition with timbers from temperate forests, against which tropical timber from sustainably managed natural forests is at a distinct disadvantage.’ (the ‘temperate forests’ mentioned are in fact plantations in Chile and New Zealand.)

‘It is quite clear -he said- that any further increase in the management costs for tropical timber due to rigid standards for the sustainable managemente of natural tropical forests, timber certification, and other costs will render it increasingly uncompetitive with the large quantities of commodity timbers becoming available especially from plantation-grown timbers from temperate countries.’

He thereby concluded that ‘the future of tropical timber based on the sustainable management of natural tropical forests, is regretfully, more than bleak. It is in forest plantations that tropical countries have certain comparative advantages.’ Therefore, tropical forestry must focus on ‘wood production from intensively managed plantations of species selected for timber production.’

Contrary to what one might think, the above thinking is bad news for tropical forests. If logging is bad, plantations are even worse, both to people and to the environment. As an indigenous person from Sarawak, with years of experience fighting against logging companies, said: the logging companies come in, degrade our forest and leave; plantation companies come in, destroy the whole forest and stay!

Source: ITTO information from CIFOR 19, June 1998