Logging the rainforest

Essay by binu May 2005

download word file, 2 pages 4.7

Industrial logging is the main cause of forest loss throughout the tropics. It is the starting point of a process leading to the forests' final destruction and substitution by agricultural crops, cattle raising or monoculture tree plantations. These are well known facts supported by more than sufficient evidence.

Even more importantly, industrial logging destroys the livelihoods of forest and forest-dependent peoples who, deprived of the resources they depend on, become poor. Contrary to the official discourse, logging does not lead to development; it results in impoverishment and social disintegration. Women are disproportionately affected by logging activities, which provide them with no employment opportunities while depleting the resources they traditionally use and manage.

In tropical countries, the process begins with the violation of the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and other traditional communities, who are the righteous owners of the forest. As most people confronted with such situation would, they frequently resist the entry of logging companies to their territories, which in turn usually results in state repression to protect the companies' legal "rights".

Forest destruction, human rights abuses, poverty creation is the local part of the equation. On the other side there is wealth creation for transnationals and local elites and an abundant supply of cheap --though very valuable-- raw material to provide rich consumers with elegant toilet seats, sumptuous coffins and other equally "important" symbols of wealth.

Some actors are crucial to make logging and end-consumers meet, among which the World Bank, the Inter American, African and Asian Development Banks and the International Monetary Fund. The banks provide the necessary funding for the road infrastructure needed to access the forest, while the IMF --as well as the banks-- force tropical countries into increasing natural resources' exports in order to ensure external debt payments. Being forests one of the...



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