In August 2013, Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, made public his decision to allow oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, obliterating the provisions of the 2006 Yasuni-ITT initiative. The initiative had provided relief to those concerned about the environmental implications of oil drilling in the uniquely virgin region: If they could raise enough money to make it work financially, Ecuador would disallow drilling.
Even if you wish it had turned out differently, you can certainly realize the economic angst of the situation: While close to 10% of the $3.6 billion goal was pledged, less than 1% was actually collected. And even the goal of $3.6 billion was only a fraction of the $7.2 billion at which the oil reserve had been valued.
Even as we grieve the loss of this global treasure and wonder about the permanent ecological effects of disturbing indigenous flora and fauna, we realize that the plan was destined to fail in the long term. Why? It lacked sustainability. And that issue of sustainability is at the crux of what’s happening with tropical forestry.
Sustainability Provides Value
The bottom line is important. For many countries, natural resources provide the basis for an economy that’s turbulent, at best. They’re only a flood or heat wave away from desperation, as it is. And their families need to eat. If forests lose their monetary value, forests become burdens rather than protected valuable resources. However, without the jobs and financial gain from lumber, forests are often clear cut, in order to allow the land to be used for cattle ranches or Palm oil plantations that will provide economic benefits.
Because of that reality, the lumber industry actually helps ensure the continued health of rainforests, providing opportunities for jobs and national revenue.
Benefits of Renewable Resources
Even if you don’t care about the ecological and other environmental benefits of rain forests, most other land uses lack the renewable characteristic that the lumber industry provides. Due to its renewable nature as well as the fact that responsible forestry practices are being increasingly required, the lumber industry does not provide the same quandary as oil-drilling does.
Proper forestry management plans provide increased quality and yield, as well as regrowth. The result is actually a higher return on those resources, leading to the increased value of both the forests and the land. Do you see how that decreases the chances of a forest’s being cut down and replaced with other money-making ventures?
The biodiversity of the forest and its contribution to the global ecosystem are allowed to thrive, as a result of the lumber industry. The Yasuni-ITT initiative has taught us about the importance of that. While export revenue may be seen as a “necessary evil,” renewable resources gain greater significance.
As we learn more about the value of natural renewable resources like lumber, we can make more informed decisions as consumers. Instead of boycotting tropical hardwoods, we’ll buy more; instead of trying to manufacture new building materials, we’ll appreciate the beauty of wood.
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.