• Debt reduction – Countries are relieved of some of their debt in return for protecting their rainforests.
• Ecotourism – Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and may involve education. It is usually carried out in small groups and has minimal impact on the local ecosystem.
• Selective logging – The cutting out of trees that are mature or inferior to encourage the growth of the remaining trees in a forest or wood.
• Sustainability – Actions and forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainable uses of the rainforest are uses that allow current generations to make a living from the forest without damaging the forest for future generations to use. It is clear that many of the current uses of the forest just destroy it, with massive long term impacts. However, the countries and people of rainforests need to make a living, and sustainable uses of forests offer them a way to do just that.
Selective logging and replanting,
Selective logging is selective because loggers choose only wood that is highly valued, such as mahogany. Clear-cutting is not selective. Selective logging is more sustainable than clear-cutting because other trees and plants do survive in the logging process and over time can allow the forest to recover. However, it does have major drawbacks. Although single trees are felled because they are valuable, other trees can be damaged in the process. This is because a felled tree can damage other trees as it falls to the ground once felled. Also, loggers need to access the wood, so have to clear come forest to make way for machinery.
Ecotourism, conservation and education
Conservation is all about the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of tropical forests and the ecological communities that inhabit them. In this case conservation would seek to manage human use of natural resources in tropical rainforests for sustainable social and economic uses. This includes the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA), where the WWF work with the Brazilian government to protect parks covering 150million acres of forest.
Another sustainable use is the development of ecotourism. Ecotourism is environmentally friendly tourism where;
• the people involved seek to protect the environment as much as possible
• there is education of the visitor
• some of the profits go back into conserving the rainforest environment
• the tourism is small scale with low visitor densities
• local people are employed and involved
Below is an ecotourism lodge where tours of the Amazon forest take place. The tourist stay in wooden huts, there is limited electricity, waste is dealt with on site and the food is sourced locally. All of the tour guides are local.
International agreements about the use of tropical hardwoods
There are also international agreements on the uses of tropical hardwoods and logging. The International Tropical Timber Agreement was set up in 2006 to "promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests and to promote the sustainable management of tropical timber producing forests".
71 countries have signed up to the agreement sponsored by the United Nations.
The rainforests are often found in poorer countries that want to exploit them. Debt reduction or conservation swaps offer an alternative to poorer countries to the reckless exploitation of their natural wealth.
These swaps basically see poorer countries have portions of their debts wiped out or paid for by richer nations or charities of richer nations in exchange for promising to protect or CONSERVE large parts of their natural environment. This has large scale global effects, by protecting the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. In 1984 the World Wildlife Fund came up with the idea of conservation swaps and in 1987 the first was launched in partnership between the Government of Bolivia and Conservation International (CI) for US$ 650000 which protected 3 natural areas. Many countries have since followed, including the Philippines, Sudan, Zambia, Ecuador and Uganda.