Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tropical Rainforest Timber and Its Sustainable Extraction

I have written a lot of articles in this blog and my other websites about the promotion of ecotourism for the preservation of tropical rainforest and the providence of jobs in Manokwari regency and its surrounding region. From those articles, some tourists came last year and more have contacted me expressing their plans to see interesting tourist destinations and do activities that I had mentioned. As a matter of fact, the functions of forest are not limited to ecotourism. Tropical rainforest have been producing a lot of things that we need. Some of the rainforest products that have been extracted are wood and NTFP (Non Timber Forest Products such as rattan, rainforest flowers, mushrooms, medicinal plants, resins and wildlife animals)
Sustainable Extraction of Timber
People living in or around the rainforest build their homes using wood. Wood is one of the best construction materials in the world. From bookshelves to tables and from doors to floors, we can see many of the things in our houses are made of wood. I have stated many times in my articles that I am against deforestation. But it does not mean that I oppose timber extraction from forest. These issues are two different things. Based on my personal experience, I saw a lot of naturally fallen trees when I was guiding tourists in the Table Mountain. Yet, these trees are not extracted for their logs which are highly needed in the nearby Manokwari city. People working in the forestry department do not see these naturally fallen trees as important timber commodity that they can harvest from the forest to generate income both for the state and for the people living near the forest.

Process of Log Removal
I don't recommend the use of crawler tractors because they can inflict substantial damage on forest ecosystems. To minimize the destruction of other vegetation in the forest during the extraction of the wood, chainsaw operators can cut the fallen trees into smaller blocks and panels. These wood products can then be transported out of the felling site using cable system. Because there are no elephants, horses and water buffalos in Papua, local people can be employed to carry the wooden blocks and panels to the nearby road before they are transported to the saw mills in the city by logging trucks for further reprocessing works. During the colonial period, the Netherlands government had built roads inside the Table Mountain of Manokwari. These roads, if cleared, and maintained, can be used for the removal of timber and as track for tourists who are interested in hiking in the Table Mountain. 
Extraction of Fuelwood
Segments of branches and twigs that have been cut from the naturally fallen trees that are not used for home building and furniture can be taken by the people for fuel wood. Papuan children are often asked to help their parents collect firewood in the forest. For Papuan children, forest is not only the source of food and fuelwood but also their playground.
I support the extraction of wood from these naturally fallen trees because the removal of the wood will accelerate the recovery of the "naturally deforested" area. Wood from the naturally fallen trees can be used for fuel wood, home buildings and furniture. By wisely extracting timber from jungle, we can continually preserve the rainforest for future generations. by Charles Roring