Is the Housing Crisis Good for the World’s Trees?

by , 03/25/09

sustainable forest management, reforestation management, tree maintenance, deforestationPhoto courtesy of Luc Bollen

Housing crisis = fewer houses being built = less wood = better for trees, right?

Not so fast says a new report published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO warns that although American loggers are cutting down fewer trees because of the drop in demand for them, the economic downturn might actually be bad for the future of the world’s trees. Apparently, simply cutting down fewer trees is not the only—nor the best—way to fight deforestation. Deforestation is a problem that must be tackled on a global and a local scale. A decrease in American logging may be good for redwoods in Northern California, but because American wood manufacturers practice much more sustainable production methods than their counterparts in other areas of the world, the economic downturn might fuel the rise of cheaper and more environmentally caustic techniques in other countries.

sustainable forest management, reforestation management, tree maintenance, deforestation

For the past few decades, the developed countries of North America and Europe have been leading the environmental charge. In addition to spending government and private sector dollars to engineer environmentally safe manufacturing technology, these countries have sought to find innovative ways to monetize biodiversity and other difficult-to-define benefits of natural forest growth. Since these countries are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis, so is the most environmentally sound portion of the global wood manufacturing industry.

It’s not all bad news, though. In an attempt to put a positive spin on a bad situation, the FAO report suggested that the current economic crisis is so dire that governments are looking to start from square one to build economically and environmentally sustainable industries. This will open the door for green development and a more fervent pursuit of renewable energy, all of which has the potential to go a long way towards saving trees all over the world.

+ Food and Agriculture Organization

+ FAO Report

sustainable forest management, reforestation management, tree maintenance, deforestation

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  1. alagausun March 30, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Its nice pics, of nature’s gift.

  2. HeckSpawn March 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Wait a minute. Are you saying we actually have more trees here in the United States due to timber being just another form of sustainable agriculture???

    That’s what Rush has been saying since back in the early 90’s…

  3. Curious Luke March 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    IMHO, building something from a responsibly-harvested tree seems like the most practical way to sequester carbon that\’s already in the air. Just a thought!

    Virgin timber is another deal entirely… But just about every forest I\’ve been in (mostly in Virginia and around the Appalachians) has been 2nd or 3rd growth forest, and the original cuttings were decades before I was born. I\’ve also had some contact with a couple of the Forest Service scientists in the area, and the seem to be very much up on the latest responsible forestry practices and research. So, it seems to me that we should be advocating responsible management of the ecology and the renewable resources our forests provide — instead of just trying to save trees. There are a *lot* of very specific issues to be hashed out at the level of responsible management, but building with wood seems a lot better than using plastic or metal. Building stuff from responsibly-harvested wood sequesters carbon, and the trees grow back — mines/wells don\’t do either of those things.

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