The world is losing 18.7 million acres of forest annually, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The trees lost from deforestation are often used for commercial purposes or agriculture and are never replenished. With climate change becoming a bigger concern and economies still needing lumber to function, a sustainable compromise needs to be made. While unintuitive, there are ways to make deforestation less damaging to the environment.
With every tree cut down, one or more trees should be planted in its place. The trees should be planted in the same vicinity in which trees were cleared, using a local species to rehabilitate the forest ecosystem. However, most trees are cut down to clear the land for a specific purpose, so it’s unlikely that trees can always be replanted in exactly the same area. Still, trees can be planted in other parts of the world to stabilise the ecosystem, sequester carbon, and benefit local communities. The web browsing company Ecosia, for example, replants trees in ecologically vulnerable areas to improve soil, water, and economic conditions in drought-prone areas like Ethiopia, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Brazil, and Indonesia. Following Ecosia’s lead can be one way for forestry companies to improve ecological conditions around the world.
Protect Biodiversity Hotspots
If a formerly biodiverse area was already deforested, such as the Amazon rainforest or the tropical evergreen forests of India, not much can be done to restore the ecosystem to its former condition. Therefore, timber companies should avoid cutting down intact ecosystems and instead use already cleared land. By protecting intact ecosystems — and especially biodiversity hotspots — the world not only keeps its shrinking amount of fragile ecosystems, but companies are forced to be more sustainable in the amount of land already available to them.
Reducing Harm to Ecosystems
Massive systemic change to our global industries must occur to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, that will take a long time, and our planet needs changes immediately. While deforestation will likely never go away, the above practices can be implemented to mitigate environmental degradation from timber industries.