What is Unethical Forestry?
Many countries these days need to quickly and easily clear out native areas of forests, agricultural lands and plains for repurposing its use to accommodate its rapidly expanding population. As a result, there is more pressure to exploit natural resources. Most of the time, this means using fire to cheaply and quickly clear out areas. Issues of unethical management of natural resources are also common in countries that are less strict about preserving their forest but are keener in profiting.
In addition, lots of timber can be produced illegally and smuggled, stolen or looted to avoid taxes and royalties. Issues like logging of old or protected forests and unsustainable development of land also contribute to unethical forestry. This results in negative impacts that affect both the environment and the population.
Why is Ethical Forestry important?
Let's take a closer look at the impacts of unethical forestry and how it impacts our biodiversity, environment and local communities.
In terms of biodiversity, unethical forestry impacts the amount of available habitat that many species of animals have and increases the chances of human-animal conflict. This often brings about hunting and poaching of animals along logging routes. In addition, animals suffer as their migration paths, sources of food and water, as well as shelter is negatively impacted.
There are also many environmental impacts that illegal and unsustainable logging may cause. One of the biggest is contributing to 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions. This of course, in turn, contributes to climate change. Another significant impact is in soil erosion and water cycles. Runoff and drying of forest soils are the results of a lack of proper trees and vegetation. This impacts the whole ecosystems ability to survive healthily.
Local communities of people relying on these forests for their source of income often lose out to big logging corporations. This is because they can't operate at the capacity and speed of these logging companies, and these companies end up reaping most of the benefits of these forests.
How do you know if your wood and paper products were ethically sourced?
One way that you can tell if your paper and wood products are ethically sourced is through looking for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The FSC promotes responsible management of the world's forests and works with companies to monitor the lifecycle of production to ensure that it won't contribute to environmental destruction or habitat loss.
The FSC certification is a strict certification that focuses on environmental and social responsibilities to enforce the long-term protection of forests while reducing the negative impacts on the environment and society.
According to the FSC, paper-based packaging with an FSC certification ensures that the wood used has been responsibly managed in an environmentally sustainable manner.
UIA, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD PROBLEMS & HUMAN POTENTIAL, Unethical practices in forestry, 2020 [Online] Available at: http://encyclopedia.uia.org/en/problem/144393? [Accessed 29 Dec 2021]
WWF, Responsible Forestry [Online] Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/timber [Accessed 30 Dec 2021]
BioPak, What is FSC certification?, 2019 [Online] Available at: https://www.biopak.com/sg/resources/fsc-certification [Accessed 29 Dec 2021]