When the Ashéninka community in Peru need wood for a new paddle they search for the right tree, usually a Remo Caspi or Paddle Wood tree. They take care to select not just the right kind of tree–paddle wood is known for being flexible and light–but the right tree itself. This sustainable, thoughtful logging has kept the rainforest protected for hundreds of years. Sadly most trees being cut down in the Amazon are not so carefully selected. HOW LOGGING ACTUALLY WORKS: MACHINES CUT DOWN ALL TREES RAZING AREAS. Even when loggers come in to cut down certain kinds of trees–for example costly rosewood– all of the other trees in the area are frequently cut down as well–either at the same time or later on once loggers have cut down all the more profitable trees in the area. When exotic woods are found in Indigenous areas, these communities are especially vulnerable as powerful companies pressure governments to give them permits to log while illegal loggers enter and cut down trees without bothering to obtain permits. Something in your house is made with illegally obtained wood. It might be your laminate flooring, office paper, dining room chairs or your guitar. Illegal logging is a $100 billion global industry. With one of the planet’s largest intact rainforests and corruption throughout the government, Peru is the land of opportunity for illegal loggers. In fact 80% of Peru’s timber comes from illegal logging. Other rainforest countries’ illegal exports are not far behind. Forest crime isn’t an isolated event, it’s an everyday event! Usually, loggers fell trees from protected land and then mix the logs in with wood obtained from legal concessions. However, the vast quantities of illegal timber being sold make it impossible for governments not to know that much of the wood they approve for export or import is illegal.
Did you know that almost all of the last stands of Mahogany are on Indigenous Lands?
Today, the Ashéninka of Alto-Tamayo, Saweto in Peru are ensuring these trees continue to tower over the canopy.
Amazon rainforest prior to logging.
Amazon rainforest after logging.
- Prized woods like Mahogany and Cedar are often come from trees that are carbon sequestration workhorses trapping more carbon than many others.
- Reduced canopy cover increases the possibility of forest fires.
- Logging is the first step allowing for mining, agriculture and other invasions that further contaminate the environment.
- Even selective logging of mahogany and other expensive hardwoods destroys the forests as machines rip up the soil and disturb the forest floor.
- Logging reduces access to plants and animals that can save lives. Treatments for multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and malaria, the active ingredient in birth control pills, ACE inhibitors for blood pressure… all of these came from the Amazon and there is much more to discover,
- Illegal loggers have been known to threaten, coerce and even kill members of Indigenous communities that protect their forests.
- Rainforests sequester carbon; as trees are cut down there are less to absorb carbon humans keep pushing into the air.
- Logs that are burned or left to rot release even more carbon into the air; deforestation releases 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Roughly 20 percent of the Amazon rain forest has disappeared over the last 40 years due to logging, cattle ranching and agricultural farming.