Tropical logging in the Amazon is a sustainable process of selective harvesting specific woods at an extraction rate of only 20-200 trees per 1000 acres. In turn, the profit from those trees sustains the preservation of the rest of the area. This is NOT to be confused with clear cutting, which is the slash and burn process used to open land for farming or ranching.
Tropical logging in the Amazon is NOT clear cutting.
The Amazon forest is the most wood-species-diverse tropical forest in the world; selective harvesting of commercially viable species is the only economically sensible approach to logging in this context. Clear cutting and burning happens when land is cleared for farming and ranching, not for logwood. For wood-timber extraction in the Amazon, typically 20 to 200 trees are selectively harvested per 1000 acres.
The expansion of agricultural areas to grow crops (soybeans, cotton, etc.) and raise cattle requires clear cutting and burning of the forest to the dirt. Logging where wood extraction is the objective does not clear cut as only a handful of the hundreds of tree species present in any smaller forest extraction area are valued for sawn wood and consequently clear-cutting is not economically sensible.
Local people and landowners need a way to get value and employment from their land. Given reasonable market prices and consumer support for tropical lumber products, the incentive to convert tropical forest to agricultural use is minimized. Job creation is substantially higher in the wood industry than in the agricultural and ranching industries while at the same time value is added to the standing, living forest.
Selective logging for wood extraction in the Amazon is THE best way to add value to and preserve the STANDING forest resource.
Many people live in the greater Amazon river basin and will use the forest resource for their livelihood; the exotic wood industry is well positioned to play a pivotal role in helping to preserve the Amazon by providing value and jobs from the standing forest without chopping it to the ground.
For more information, please see “Frontiers in Ecology 2007, Timber Production in Selectively Logged Tropical Forests in South America” by Michael Keller et al.