What Is Sustainable Harvesting? Do We Need It?

Until humans continue to inhabit this planet, there will always exist a need for what rainforests have to offer. Likewise, there will always exist businesses that will want to supply that need - one of the great causes of deforestation. The question is if we can still demand so much from the rainforests and continue taking everything we can from them, without considering long-term percussions. The answer is, certainly, we can't.

Why is deforestation dangerous?

When we take trees and other plants without considering long-term effects, we are giving power to climate change, fewer crops, flooding, soil erosion, increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, desertification, and a range of obstacles for indigenous people.

It is estimated that 25 percent of the world’s entire greenhouse gas production comes from deforestation alone. Furthermore, forests around the world store over half the amount of CO2 than is found in the atmosphere. This means that when areas are deforested, the CO2 stored is freed back to the atmosphere.

When it comes to the Amazon rainforest, the continuous deforestation that is happening as you read this article comes from:

  • Farmers - to obtain firewood and create space for crops or grazing lands;
  • Industrial Agriculture - especially the soy industry;
  • Cattle industry - to clear ranch land;
  • Paper industry - to turn trees into pulp;
  • Energy industry - such as power plants that burn and cut trees to generate electricity;
  • Mining operations - to dig mines and build roads;
  • Hydroelectric projects - flooding vast acres of rainforest;
  • Logging interests - to produce furniture, flooring and other items;
  • Governments and industries - to make way for service and transit roads.

To avoid that these practices continue devastating the Amazon (and all the other forests and rainforests on Earth) without spoiling jobs and income of thousands of people, the answer is sustainable harvesting.

What is Sustainable Harvesting?

Sustainable harvesting is the responsibility one has when taking something that belongs to the forest, from the forest. Consider cutting trees to supply wood, fuel or paper. By cutting trees responsibly, we can assure that the regeneration and well-being of the forest will be the priority. Using sustainable harvesting practices not only protects the forest and keep it unaffected by anthropogenic activities, but it also gives us a constant supply of wood and other forest resources.

This only means that Nature will be protected as a whole. Naturally, in order to benefit from forests without harming them, there are guidelines to follow like the Best Management Practices (BMPs) focusing on issues such as soil, air, water quality, and wildlife protection.

One example of small-scale sustainable forestry is to cut trees of weak vitality seasonally as a supply of personal firewood. Not only does this practice provide a constant supply of fuel, but it will also permit the remaining trees to develop within more space and light, enhancing future timber and the landscape itself.

Harvesting highly valuable non‐timber forest goods has been considered a win‐win strategy where local people profit while preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services.

A forest’s biodiversity — including its water resources, soils, plant species, and animals — must be conserved. This means that forest managers have to:

  • Minimize erosion and guard waterways;
  • Withdraw the use of chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides;
  • Properly dispose of their waste;
  • Preserve native tree species and conserve genetic diversity on their land;
  • Set aside part of their properties as protected areas where woodcutting is forbidden;
  • Take extra measures to guarantee the integrity of the forest.

Researchers have found that UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other protected regions greatly benefited from having FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certified forestry businesses as neighbors.

How does the EBCF help the Amazon to thrive?

The EBCF (Empresa Brasileira De Conservação De Florestas / Brazilian Rainforest Conservation Company) is creating a unique alliance of private and public collaborations that developed a new cryptocurrency to evade the Amazon's destruction: the Amazonians Green Coin. EBCF's mission is to create a world where sustainable values are the currency rather than a byproduct.

First, they have a solid strategy. One that involves the native forests that are struggling from the consequences of deforestation, and converts them into "Conservation Units" that hold the development of the Private Reserves of Sustainable Development. Moreover, there will be several projects focused on the well-being of the Amazon rainforest.

What these projects have in common is the sustainable harvesting of timber-free products, land rehabilitation, wildlife reintroduction, a decrease of CO2 emissions, studies within biodiversity, technological development for individual and social responsibility.

The economic purpose of EBCF is to create a range of eco-services and business-related activities that financially support EBCF's social-environmental goal.

Sustainable harvesting belongs to the financial income, by producing timber-free Amazonian products such as fruits, seeds, extracts, oils, essences, fragrances, powders, and others.

This means that there are many practical steps that a community or business can take to protect the health and longevity of a forest while still profiting from the production and sale of timber and other forest products.

EBCF has also partnered with Amazon Roots as the distributor of its non-timber products who in turn has current sales agreements with Amazonian Alliance, Planet Organic, Rigby Foods, Universal Taste, and others.

The Amazonian Alliance, for instance, is the EBCF's most important partner. Its primary mission is to search for financial support and create strategic collaborations that are focused on the evolution of the sustainable harvesting sector.

As EBCF says:

"The social dimension of sustainability is extremely important to us. We put emphasis and focus on Individuals and Corporates to be part of this new green economy and sustainable world."

Together, with the agreement of harvesters in the surrounding areas, EBCF will provide a total of 200,000 hectares for harvesting Brazil nuts and other non-timber products to be traded as food, beverage, cosmetic and pharma ingredients, own-brand finished food and cosmetics products.

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Above all, the goal is to make our planet green and sustainable again. Remember that the environment surrounding us has countless assets to offer. There is no need to approach these assets with greed or negligence. We must know what we are doing when we take something from the Earth. We must think about the consequences and always act on behalf of nature. Only then our planet will thrive and we will thrive with it.