Population boom will pressure forests

LONDON (Reuters) - Booming demand for food, fuel and wood as the world’s population surges from six to nine billion will put unprecedented and unsustainable demand on the world’s remaining forests, two new reports said on Monday.

“Arguably we are on the verge of the last great global land grab,” said Andy White, co-author of “Seeing People Through the Trees,” one of the two reports.

“Unless steps are taken, traditional forest owners, and the forests themselves, will be the big losers. It will mean more deforestation, more conflict, more carbon emissions, more climate change and less prosperity for everyone.”


Less prosperity for everyone isn’t a good thing.

No, it never is. I’m sure there are wasteful uses of timber. But at least from my perspective, and where I live, we’re a good distance from running out. Woodlands are, in fact, expanding, largely because private owners have different ways of thinking about trees than they once did.

I had the really wonderful experience of having known quite well an old timberman (now deceased). Cut timber all his life, and really knew trees. I’m kind of an amateur forester just for fun, and because I like trees, and I greatly appreciated some of the things he taught me about how to recognize what trees ought to be harvested and what trees left alone and what trees to simply cut down to rid the forest of them. If you know what you’re looking at, you can see a magnificent-looking tree that’s not actually growing at all. Others of the same species are “fast growers”, and you can pretty well tell that too. They’ll grow more in 10 years than another will grow in 100. The “fast growers” are also the big carbon sequesterers (for those who worry about that). He taught me which ones are best on east slopes, west slopes, north or south slopes, and which ones in the bottoms, on dryland and on “wet” land. It’s a wonderful subject. Some trees will grow wonderful, tight wood, and some of the very same species won’t.

Trees are like any other plant. They can be tended, weeded, nurtured, planted where they ought to be planted, properly spaced and freed of obstructiions, and they’ll reward the effort. I don’t particularly doubt that deforestation is occurring in many places. But I also think people don’t really know how to blend them into whatever other uses are being put to the land.

New studies predict record land grab as demand soars for new sources of food, energy and wood fiber

According to the findings released today in RRI’s comprehensive study, Seeing People through the Trees: Scaling Up Efforts to Advance Rights and Address Poverty, Conflict and Climate Change, the world will need a minimum of 515 million more hectares by 2030, in order to grow food, bioenergy, and wood products. This is almost twice the amount of land that will be available, equal to a land mass 12 times the size of Germany.

Crops that produce biofuels alone will require at least an additional 30 to 35 million hectares (Mha) of new productive land within the next decade or so, the equivalent of 35,000 soccer fields, according to the authors: “High prices are intensifying land speculation, deforestation, and encroachment on an unprecedented scale,” they note in their report.

The following are official government projections in just three key producer countries of projected growth in the area to be used for production of industrial crops, including those destined for food and fuel:

In Brazil, 28 Mha are currently under cultivation for soy and sugarcane. By 2020, soy and sugarcane plantations are expected to cover 88 to 128 Mha of Brazilian land.
In Indonesia, 6.5 Mha of land are dedicated to oil palm plantations. By 2025, oil palm plantations are projected to require 16.5 to 26 Mha of land.
In China, biofuel cultivation alone is expected to require an additional 13.3 Mha of land by 2020.

Speakers at the London event noted that many of the billion people who live in and around vulnerable forests will be unable to protect their forests because they lack secure and enforced customary land rights to help resist the soaring demand for land. Furthermore, the reports and discussions make clear that international initiatives to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) will fail unless there are robust and proactive steps by all actors to secure local land rights in forest areas. Investments in forest areas will only benefit the better off individuals and industries will neither address the causes of deforestation nor encourage sustainable development.



Have you ever heard of Malthus?

Couldn’t tell that by me down here given the number of pine tree farms in my area and the number of logging trucks on the road. Fast growing renewable resource.


Take a plane ride over West Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon, or Washington State, and you’ll see that timbering can be very well controlled. You won’t believe how much mature timber there is. As for Brazil and other S. American equatorial states, logging is not even making a dent. Trees are renewable, and we should use them.

:smiley: Our family uses trees to heat our home with. Cost $0 -v- $2000+ for fuel oil. :thumbsup:

So do we! Most of the trees we cut are a little more than a stone’s throw away.

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