The logging business hasn’t always been the most popular industry. The growth of environmental consciousness and green energy has left an industry associated with deforestation the villains in the minds of many.
To some degree, this has been earned. National Geographic has called deforestation a “modern day plague,” and overall the epidemic has been responsible for the loss of acre after acre of natural habitat.
Still, there are real ways the industry can work with agriculture to be sustainable and benefit mankind and the planet.
Agriculture And The Logging Business
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are three connected industries not expected to change in the future.
The three industries also have faced a fundamental problem: they work with limited resources (trees, land, and fish,) and need to use those resources to feed a growing population.
The growing population aspect is really key. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach at least 9.7 billion people.
Feeding more and more people with limited resources has been expected to take a toll on global resources. Factor in already dwindling farmlands and forests, and most people are rightly concerned with the impact of both industries.
Human beings can do quite a bit. But if available resources run out, that’s it.
Luckily, there is a way for both industries to be sustainable. And while it may not be simple, sustainable forestry and agriculture are mankind’s best shots at survival.
With all of the talk of renewable energy lately, it’s easy to forget that timber itself is a renewable resource.
The best way to protect the forest from long-term damage is “selective logging.”
Many people think of selective logging as planting trees after trees are cut down, but that’s not actually necessary. Forests are self-sustaining and complex eco-systems that do not require human activity to avoid running out of trees.
Deforestation has become an epidemic because of either entire forests being cleared out or the entirety of a certain species of tree being removed from the forest.
Both governments and private sector stakeholders in the logging business have a role to play in making forestry sustainable.
Governments have the clearest role: passing laws and regulations regarding the use of woodlands. These regulations can put a stop on the worst practices, and maintain forest eco systems through limits to the number of permits without taking a severe toll on jobs or economic productivity.
Owners of woodlands have their own role to play. Instead of simply selling logging space and claiming it’s out of their hands, they can create and enforce restrictions on the use of woodland for sale.
Finally, logging businesses have their own role to play, though it will be a bit more expensive and labor-intensive than past activities.
The logging business is entirely dependent upon the maintenance of forests. Therefore, they have a responsibility toward the forest itself.
Loggers should study the areas they’re logging. While this may seem like common sense, it also is costly in the short term, just to finance a study. In the long term,
In the long term, however, it saves businesses thousands and even millions of pounds to maintain the land they have instead of constantly buying new land.
Loggers should also avoid clear cutting forests, instead of working to minimise the damage to a forest or area of a forest. Providing the forest with the resources and time to regenerate is necessary to making forestry sustainable.
But it’s not just loggers who are responsible: agriculture also has a significant role to play in benefitting humanity through sustainability.
As the logging business can benefit humanity through a smarter approach, sustainable agriculture can bring food to our table while reducing the impact on the environment.
One of the most basic ways to make agriculture sustainable is energy. This is particularly true with small farms on homes and homesteads. Reducing the energy costs of our food is one of the first steps to benefiting humanity through the food we eat.
Agriculture can also be made more sustainable through changing our priorities on what we eat.
It takes almost 7000 litres of water to make just half a kilogramme of beef. We all love steak and cheeseburgers, but if we continue to produce burger after burger we cannot make food remotely sustainable.
Agriculture And Soil Quality
Another issue is keeping the soil in shape. Just like the logging business needs to minimise its impact on forests, agriculture can reduce its impact on soil by avoiding practices that degrade soil.
The biggest threat to the soil is erosion. Practices that reduce or eliminate vegetation for the purpose of dryland farming are examples of short-term thinking in action: for a few years, they give farmers a greater yield.
But after that period of time passes, the land becomes inhospitable over the coming decades. Eventually, it is damaged beyond repair and it becomes impossible to farm the land.
Today, we are also damaging soil quality through our use of chemicals. Herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides can damage soil quality significantly.
Agriculture produced without these harmful chemicals reduces the damage caused to the soil.
Damage to soil quality can be significantly worse than damage to woodlands caused by the logging business. Whereas replanting trees can allow forest ecosystems to recover, loss of soil quality can take far longer and have lasting consequences.
The biggest issue is culture. A culture which encourages businesses to do whatever they want, without a thought to the long-term consequences of their actions, will never be sustainable.
A business culture devoted to making the right decisions, however, can make steps in the right direction. This is true of agriculture and the logging business.
Ultimately, business hasn’t moved forward due to people looking to take the easy way out. It’s moved forward due to innovators like Nikola Tesla being willing to think outside the box and make difficult decisions while thinking about more than just a short-term bottom line.
We’re at a crossroads today. But if business owners are willing to make the right choices, we can move forward once more.