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Is the Housing Crisis Good for the World's Trees?
Photo 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.
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.
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