Global Forestry Debate - Sustainability

Nick Ananin visfor at
Sun Nov 2 05:44:51 EST 1997

My thanks to all those who took part. 
Our first debate highlighted the need for foresters, the community and
governments to understand and agree on the terms of reference when dealing
with sustainability.
The main outcome of the second debate was a slightly better understanding
of the term "Sustainability". A definition for forestry (and applicable to
other production) which embraced the main components could be as follows: "
To maintain maximum production (not just timber but also fruits, medicines
etc.) whilst minimising non renewable inputs (artificial fertiliser,
pesticides, fuel etc.) and maximising biodiversity (including protection of
the soil, wildlife etc.)". 
Taking each of the three components in the main definition we debated how
to achieve maximum sustainability.
1) Maximum production was for the long term benefit of each nation. More
production would genereate more revenue. What we did not agree was whether
people would be prepared to PAY more for products from sustainable sources
(or from specific sources e.g. third world countries).
2) Non renewable inputs was discussed in light of a CO2 tax. It was felt
that this was less of an incentive to find sustainable alternatives. An
international tax would find loopholes and could end up like a cartel.
TAXATION OF NON RENEWABLES at source could be a viable alternative. If such
was to be agreed internationally, would the proceeds go towards helping
third world countries to obtain the tools (technology) to achieve a more
sustainable way of producion. Either way we need to find alternatives
(including more efficient methods which use non renewables wisely) before
we run out.
3) Biodiversity is intrinsically bound up with sustainability. Currently
there is no globally recognised benefit to producers to maintain the
biodiversity. It was suggested that there should be financial incentives
(tax relief or grants) based on an ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT (number of dead
trees, woodpeckers, forest soil organisms etc.)
In many countries land use policy drives maximum production whilst ignoring
the other two components. Equally in some forest policy there is a drive to
increase diversity whilst ignoring production - frequently with little or
no recogniton to the individual grower. 
What we need is a 'formula' which embraces all three components. Individual
owners and nations should get 'Scores' and the result of all three would
give a measure of the sustainability (1 to 10). The final score would be
reflected in financial incentives - product price, tax incentives or
What we don't want is preservation of forests because taken to the extreme
it won't benefit future generations. Our children will need the renewable
products which come from forests. We need a viable land use policy globally
but in many cases we should start "at home" with the individual policy for
each nation, region or individual owner. It is up to us as foresters to
lead the way towards sustainability and formulate a viable policy.
One aspect not included in the above formula is TIME SCALE.
Another definition of sustainability "to make the resources last very
loooong". In other words "Sustainable production through sustainable
If you have any comments or wish to be involved in the further debate
please contact me or find us on the Chat Room at   

Nick Ananin , Vision Forestry, Aberdeen, Scotland

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