August 2014 marked one year since Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, made his highly controversial announcement to allow oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, despite the 2006 Yasuni-ITT initiative. President Correa made this decision based upon having raised less than 1% of the $3.6 billion goal in actual deposits (closer to 10% in pledges) needed to keep Ecuador from allowing oil drilling in this uniquely virgin part of the globe.
Basically, the Yasuni-ITT initiative provided an opportunity for environmentalists to keep the oil underground by meeting the need that the oil would meet for Ecuador — well, at least part of it: The oil reserve was valued at $7.2 billion, and the initiative promised to leave the oil alone if the international community could come up with only half that amount.
However, even if the target amount had been raised, a problem would still remain: Their play lacked the sustainability needed in order to provide a long-term solution. And that is the point at which this intersects with the similar issues facing tropical forestry.
The Value of Sustainable Solutions
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, buying imported lumber really is the best way to ensure the future of rainforests. Like any natural resources, when forests lose their value to a country’s GDP, they lose hope of a future. However, when forests continue to provide opportunities for ongoing job creation and revenue, they retain their value.
As illogical as it may seem to clear-cut an irreplaceable old growth forest and disrupt an entire ecosystem in order to use the land for other revenue-building exploits, such as cattle ranches or Palm oil plantations, the fact is that if forests aren’t making money, they’ll be replaced with something else that will. If something akin to the Yasuni-ITT initiative were to be presented in lieu of lumber harvesting, it might seem better at first, but in the long run, it would also not work because it is not sustainable.
The Beauty of Renewable Resources
Unlike oil, lumber is an entirely renewable resource. With a proper forestry management plan, quality and yield increase, while regrowth is being actively promoted. With a higher return on these resources, the value of the resources naturally increases.
While each species certainly holds a unique set of characteristics and a beauty all of its own, the true value of wood lies in its renewable nature. The aesthetic appeal of a forest, with all its biodiversity and contribution to a healthy global ecosystem, is simply not enough to make the forest hold its value in our world; if nothing else, the Yasuni-ITT initiative has taught us that. When export revenue is essential, renewable resources become invaluable — not worthless, but priceless.
While we don’t have a good solution for non-renewable resources, such as oil, we can learn from the Yasuni-ITT initiative about what works and what doesn’t work. In the end, everyone wins when forests are properly managed and the lumber industry is thriving: the customer wins, the forest wins, the exporting country wins, and the global ecosystem wins.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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