How cutting down trees can save the Amazon

Victor Solano, a seasoned forester at MADERACRE

Victor Solano, a seasoned forester at MADERACRE

In Peru, the current deforestation rate is approximately 261,000 ha per year – that’s 3.5 Singapore’s every year! – and illegal logging is a significant factor. But, the country, and its people, need to utilize the Amazon’s resources to develop, so leaving it untouched is not an option for those who rely on it for their livelihoods. The surprising solution may seem contradictory, but there is a way that meets the needs of Peru’s population without compromising the needs of future generations – and, yes, it involves cutting down more trees.

Peru is one of the ten most biologically diverse countries on earth, with thousands of species of amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles, and exotic plant life–many of these species are seen nowhere else on earth.

“As a young boy, I remember running around in the forest, wide-eyed and curious to know everything about every creature,” says Nelson Kroll, a Peruvian Forest Manager. “At the university, I wanted to continue learning about them, including the elusive ‘Aguila come monos’ (a nickname given to the harpy eagle for its notorious prowess at hunting small monkeys).”

Nelson knows Peru’s natural treasures face substantial threats – and that a number of species are teetering on the verge of extinction.

Nelson graduated with a degree in forest management from the University of Pucallpa in 2001. As he explains, “I realized I could do a lot more good for the animals that way.”

Today this tall, slender forester oversees the private forestry company, MADERACRE, in Peru operating on 140,000 hectares of FSC-certified forest. The boy who grew up fascinated with jungle animals has been advising the company for 12 years.

Victor Solano – a veteran forester among the team – emerges from a massive machine called a ‘Skidder’, dressed in an orange uniform, white helmet, and safety glasses. A forest engineer by training, Victor manages the extraction team. With over 20 years working in forestry, and 15 years of working in certified forest companies, Victor has plenty of stories to tell of Peru’s darker days before FSC.

“We used to come into a forest, take what we needed, and go. There was no long-term thinking; no 20-year plan like there is now (a requirement of FSC forest management certification).
We don’t do that now. You need to have a plan – its important,” Victor stresses in a cool and slow voice.
This is the future of monitoring forests for better decision-making.

The cutting down of this tree is prohibited

The cutting down of this tree is prohibited

The forest workers of MADERACRE go out into one hectare of their forest concession, and they identify all of the trees with commercial value and chart them using handheld GPS devices. They take some of the trees from each hectare; and then they go to the next hectare; and next hectare; and by the time they come back to the first, all the trees are growing back and they take the others. This is known as selective logging – a mutually beneficial relationship between man and the environment that is at the heart of FSC forest management.

“And it doesn’t just benefit the forest,” Nelson chimes in, “healthy forests are a healthy investment for people.”

Victor agrees: “We have rights as workers, we have opportunities to learn. We don’t come here just to work, you can learn new skills and discipline.”

Everyone takes ownership and responsibility for their duties. Each worker feels that they’re important to the operation. Whether it’s a junior forest worker assigned to gather information and marking trees for harvest, or a seasoned worker learning how to drive the gargantuan Skeeder, or a veteran taking on the role of mentor, it is clear that every member of the group understands the importance of their role within the forest management team, and, importantly, that they’re contributing to the well-being of the forest.

“You see that bird up there?” Nelson points towards the sky. He’s quick to identify it as a swallow-tailed kite. “You’re very lucky to see it, they’re a rare sighting around the Amazon these days. But we still see them in our forests.”

When we teach the tools of responsible forest management to the curious children of the Amazon, we ensure its future is in good hands. As Victor says, “you to have a plan – it’s important”.

Blogpost and pictures submitted by Jesse Cruz (FSC Global Development, Germany) – j.cruz(at)fsc.org
Pictures courtesy Christian Irrgang (FSC Global Development)

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


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6 thoughts on “How cutting down trees can save the Amazon

  1. Leonardo, How do your uncut trees generate benefits and incentives for forest protection? Sustainable harvest of trees can frequently generate enough revenue to provide substantial income for local communities while covering the costs of sustainable forest management. There are a few exceptions, but protected areas rarely cover the costs of protecting/managing them. I know that NTFP can generate benefits, but, in my experience the amount of benefits from NTFP varies greatly from site to site and frequently are quite low.

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  2. The article should say: As uncut trees can conserve the Amazon?

    If we add the pollution generated by the production machining method is practiced today in Peru, with levels of quality control and waste that exceed 50%, even with all FSC certifications or another. The extractive activity of the trees in the tropics is wasteful and harmful. That actions make this activity: The evaluation, selection, the selected tree lying, involvement of the environment to drop the selected tree, road construction that destroys the soil water system, the permanence of the men in the camps with their footprint, skidding and transport of wood with CO2 footprint; low economic productivity by measuring surface. And we add the reset time of the species 40 years. For the value price with wooden roll. The work that is now done for timber is uneconomic and destructive to the ecosystem and the future of the Amazon and national society.
    I think the best approach is one that uncontaminated and remove the main infrastructure of the forest are trees, is one that generates ongoing work in the present and keep wealth for the future. .is That possible? ; Clearly si¡¡¡ To enter context, we must first answer a question. Is an industry? and compare the answer with the function of the forest. Which is the forest?. The forest itself is a primary processing industry … No need. burning fossil energy to transform the raw material used. , Stores its products in different spaces or tight stores that share its structure and that are accessible to human biotechnology industry (nutraceutical products, cosmeceutricoe); ecotourism, observing the landscape, water purification and static. . As the manufacturing process of the forest is different, the main and various products not measured by thousands tons …. The primary forest is a self-sufficient and sustainable industry .. with the lowest level of pollution generated economy and ….
     This reading is part of the analysis to the management of the Amazon forests and understanding of the vital importance of conservation means proper management and better.
    In conclusion the primary tropical forest is not timber. you should invest in reforestation with fast-growing species deforested areas ranching and farming in fallow scale .. it should raise community reforestation and restoration of arreas destroyed by illegal activities. For large volumes of timber at low costs ONLY POSSIBLE reforesting

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