Aerial Logging

How could logging possibly contribute to saving rainforest biodiversity?

New methods of logging are available to save most of the vast biodiversity that is lost currently in the course of large-scale commercial logging. ICR has convinced several of the largest international timber companies that log tropical forests to use these new methods. However, they need demonstration that they can still cover their expenses and make a profit. They argue that such a demonstration should be financed from conservation funds, since it is "research."

Unfortunately, ICR's attempts to demonstrate the ecological and economic benefits of these new technologies have been repeatedly undermined by other conservationists who do not want logging of any kind. But, "logging" or "not logging" is not the choice we have. In the remaining high diversity, original forests in West Africa and Southeast Asia the only choice is: very destructive logging or immensely improved logging. Research indicates that aerial logging in the tropics would save the vast biodiversity of these forests. With current methods the destruction is so extensive that recovery of the forests is extremely difficult. In some areas in Indonesia, for example, cycles of fires during dry years repress regeneration and seed-stocks are permanently lost.

Sustainable logging can actually save forests, as strange as that may appear. The reason is that destructive logging is often followed by alternative uses of the land because there is no hope of future logging. These land areas are usually converted to agriculture, usually plantations, such as, oil palm. Often the land is abandoned. With a high degree of damage, recovery takes 80 years or more.

The promise of sustainable income from logging on a 15 to 20 years cycle, provides convincing argument to keep the land forested. No other single economic activity could conserve as much forest, essentially intact ecologically.

ICR favors use of heavy-lift (12 tons), helium balloons for extracting logs. Helicopter logging has the same ecological benefits, but can not compete on an economic basis.


(See "The burden of conservation")