Johan Zweede is the director of Fundaçao Floresta
Tropical, the Brazilian subsidiary of the Tropical Forest
Foundation, in Belém, Pará, Brazil.
quinine, Brazil nuts--many common products originated
in the Amazon basin. Yet we have tapped only a tiny fraction
of Amazonia's potential. Whether for food, for pharmaceuticals,
or for "ecological services" such as carbon
sequestration, the Amazon rainforest is an invaluable
resource for future generations worldwide.
future potential is threatened. Thousands of square
miles of rainforest are lost each year due to deforestation.
developing Amazonia countries with surging populations,
forest preservation throughout Amazonia's vast interior
is not a viable option. But forest conservation might
be another matter. Can the countries that share Amazonia's
resources both use the rainforest for timber and conserve
its wealth for future generations?
1994, the Tropical
Forest Foundation--supported by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service,
Agency for International Development, and others--set
out to find the answer in cooperation with its Brazilian
subsidiary, the Fundaçao Floresta Tropical. Working
with local landowners, the Fundaçao Floresta
Tropical established study plots for comparing conventional
logging to sustainable forest management through reduced-impact
logging. Conditions vary widely across Amazonia, so
the Fundaçao Floresta Tropical used the same
reduced-impact logging approach to develop different
models on different sites.
are striking. Through careful planning, training, and
technology application, reduced-impact logging can diminish
the amount of ground disturbed and the damage done to
remaining trees by up to 50 percent and the volume of
residues left behind by logging by two-thirds. Reduced-impact
logging also creates more local jobs than conventional
logging, helping to stabilize local communities. Moreover,
reduced-impact logging is cost-effective: At one study
site, cost per cubic meter of wood produced was 12 percent
less using reduced-impact logging than using conventional
is key. The Fundaçao Floresta Tropical provides
onsite training for foresters and forestry instructors
at all levels--from tree identifiers to landowners.
Technology transfer, extension, research, and publication
programs round out the Fundaçao Floresta Tropical's
on its success, the Fundaçao Floresta Tropical
is transforming itself into a permanent forest management
and training center based on partnerships among the
Brazilian government, industry, and nongovernmental
by changing the face of logging in Amazonia, the people
of Brazil can use the rainforest while still preserving
its myriad benefits for future generations.