Peak Timber ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

The BBC has a look at an ANU study into timber depletion in the tropics - 'Peak timber' concerns in tropics.

Current tropical timber practices are not sustainable and nations should consider the "implications of 'peak timber'", a study has suggested.

A team of researchers says the standard cutting cycle of 30-40 years is too short to allow trees to grow to a volume required by commercial loggers.

As a result, they add, the pressure to harvest primary forests will continue, leading to ongoing deforestation.

The findings have been published in the journal Biological Conservation.

The scientists used logging on the Solomon Islands as an example because it was, in some respects, "a microcosm of the challenges facing sustainable forest management in the tropics".

They said the industry had been a major source of government revenue for a number of years.

Yet, they added: "For nearly a decade, the nation had been warned that the volume of timber annually harvested from native forests was too high and, if unchecked, that timber stocks would be seriously depleted by 2012.

"In 2009, the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands asserted that (the) exhaustion of timber stocks had arrived even earlier that predicted and its economic consequences were likely to be severe."

Pushing the limit

The team - made up by Dr Phil Shearman and Jane Bryan from the Australian National University, and Prof William Laurance from James Cook University, Australia - said the trajectory of the country's timber production (a rapid increase in production, followed by a peak and then a decline) was akin to the 'Hubbert curve', which has been observed in the exploitation of non-renewable resources, such as oil.

"It is occurring in the Solomons because timber extraction has occurred at a rate far in excess of the capacity of the forests to regenerate commercial timber stocks," they wrote.

1 comments

I would say that this is just another example of a natural resource which we are devouring rapidly with little thought given to future practices. I've been wondering what the status of the timber industry is ever since I began watching some of the logging shows that the history channel seems to be inundated with right now. Thanks for pointing out yet another peak resource that we depend on.

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