Farming and Forestry

The IPCC says that forestry practices must change quickly to counteract s-^sj&k rapid, worldwide deforestation. The IPCC warns that forestry companies need to know how climate changes will affect their forests. These changes could include an increase in how fast wood decomposes, as well as more intense droughts and forest fires. (Climate change won't be bad news for all forests initially, however. Because of temperature increases, some trees could grow faster and take in more carbon dioxide.)

Instead of deforesting entire areas, the forestry industry needs to adopt more sustainable methods, such as selective harvesting. This method involves removing small groups of trees, leaving behind a range of trees of different ages and sizes. Selective harvesting has many benefits:

i Helps land stability: The root systems of trees hold the soil together and assist in the prevention of landslides.

i Keeps the forest functioning as an ecosystem: This enables it to continue to serve as habitat for wildlife.

i Keeps the soil healthy and productive: Healthy soil, supported by trees, takes in rain — a lot of it. Trees also make the soil more drought resistant by shading it and giving it nutrients.

Ecologists encourage selective harvesting in temperate forests primarily to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Temperate forests include the boreal region, a large band of forests, through Russia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada, which makes up about one third of the planet's remaining forests. These forests have deep soils that can support new growth after clear-cutting. The second-growth forest lacks the species diversity of the primary forest, but only very rarely does a clear-cut forest in a temperate region result in true deforestation.

Selective harvesting is essential to the survival of forests in the tropics, however. Tropical forests grow on very thin soils, which are unlikely to be able to support life after the forest canopy has been cut away. Clear-cutting a tropical forest results in true deforestation.

The forestry industry can implement the sustainable practice of lengthening the time between rotations (the time between logging the forest, allowing regrowth, and coming back to log it again), allowing a forest to grow for a longer period of time before returning to log that area again. This longer cutting cycle would increase the carbon uptake of the forests; although young forests absorb carbon more quickly than old trees, older trees can retain far more carbon.

cs jtfWs Some in the forestry industry are already taking steps, through the Forest

Stewardship Council (FSC), to ensure that forests are sustainably managed. If a forest complies with the FSC's Principles of Responsible Forest Management, the FSC certifies that forest, enabling the operators to use the FSC logo.

According to the FSC, more than 95 million hectares have been certified — about 7 percent of the world's industrial forests — and this number is growing rapidly. Large companies dedicated to helping forest management help make these kinds of programs a success — from FSC-certified chairs to eyeliner pencils. (Check out www.fsc.org for more about the Forest Stewardship Council.)

Governments and non-governmental organizations are taking steps to reduce deforestation in the tropics, where trees take in carbon dioxide all year round, making deforestation reduction in tropical regions most effective — and most urgently needed. (Boreal trees in the north don't take in carbon dioxide in winter months.) The majority of the world's rainforests are found in developing countries. The Clean Development Mechanism, a program under the Kyoto Protocol, encourages industrialized countries to fund sustainable forestry practices in developing countries that can help those developing countries cut greenhouse gas emissions. (We talk about this program in Chapter 12.)

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