Changing the way we look at cutting trees

Sustainable forest management refers to environmental preservation and management that is sustainable, socially acceptable, and economically viable. It is the key to maximizing the benefits of tree cutting while keeping the negatives down to a minimum and helps ensure that the well-being of the environment is preserved for future generations.

Cutting down trees has always been viewed negatively by most people because of irresponsible logging, an issue that continues to worsen the problem of deforestation and magnify the effects of climate change. This in turn has led to an increasingly propagated negative public perception about cutting trees and the entire wood industry, a large part of which is anchored on misconceptions.

We know that trees sequester carbon dioxide and process it to fuel its growth while releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere as a by-product of photosynthesis. Some believe that the carbon dioxide collected of a tree over its lifespan is released once it is felled. This is not true; a tree will always keep that carbon dioxide even if it is cut down, unless it’s allowed to burn or decompose.

Another common misconception is that legal loggers, like their illegal counterparts, do not take into consideration the trees to be cut. This is not the case, as they cut trees in block and choose only old and mature trees to liberate the younger trees, so they may be able to grow and reach maturity. In plantations, being an even-aged stand, the trees are being cleared in block and then replanting follows to ensure the availability of raw materials for the next cutting cycle.

Logging, not having any positive benefits, is another common misconception. Just as it has negatives, it also has positives. Cutting mature trees, for example, promotes regeneration, improves habitat for many species, and maintains forest health in the long run. This also provides a source of livelihood for residents from the upland areas.

These misconceptions are some of the reasons why logging is frowned upon and even opposed by many. It is something that needs to be changed, a goal that numerous organizations like the Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA) are currently working to achieve.

Aside from helping debunk logging misconceptions, the PWPA has also been working to institutionalize sustainable forest management to help address the growing need for wood and other byproducts while ensuring ecological balance.

“Through sustainable forest management, people gain a better understanding of how to protect our forests,” Charlie H. Liu, Chairman of PWPA said. “All the while, taking care of the needs of communities dependent on wood production promotes inclusive growth brought about by the wood industry.”

To institutionalize sustainable forest management, PWPA and other partner organizations continue to work together to push for the enactment of the bill. While it is waiting to be enacted, PWPA continues its campaign to further educate the public on the advantages of sustainable forestry and the relevance of wood.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2019 issue. 

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