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When is a forest not a forest?

Under the Banyan: palm-oil plantationIn a recent post at Under the Banyan, Mike rails at the FAO’s definition of “forest” and the poor policy decisions that can lead to:

Scientists have tried to explain how important real forests are for limiting climate change, tackling poverty and creating green economies based on timber and other forest products.

But the fate of forests gets decided in concrete capitals where policymakers pour over green-tinged maps and financial spreadsheets that only show some of the costs and benefits of changing a real forest into anything else.

Right now, somewhere in the world, one of these policymakers is reading a technical document about forests — they are reading small black print on a dull pale page and they are probably wishing the document or the day was shorter.

It makes me wonder how many of the bureaucrats who will decide the fate of the world’s tropical forests have actually walked in one. And how the protectors of the forests can encourage more policymakers to take that journey.

Read the rest.

What is a forest?

This year, 2011, marks the International Year of the Forest. But what is a forest? Judging by the works of several academics, it may not mean what we think it does, as arbiculturist Adam Winson explains. Here’s a snippet:

According to the FAO, both an industrial eucalyptus tree monoculture plantation and a rainforest with its hundreds of different tree species are classed as forest. But neighbours of such vegetation types would only recognize the rainforest as a forest, while a tree monoculture plantation would often be referred to as a “green desert”. The only similarity a neighbour may indeed observe is that both types of vegetation contain trees.

Read the rest.

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