Chopping Down the Rainforests for the Green Olympics


We are beginning to get a picture of what our world will look like in a few years- In America, amber waves of corn from sea to shining sea; in Brazil, sugar cane; in Indonesia. palm plantations. We read in the New York Times that China has just placed a rush order for a billion dollars worth of Merbau for the 2008 so-called Green Olympics, and to replant for palm oil, as part of a larger deal that will essentially level the remaining forest. "For China, the deal is a double bounty: the wood from the forest will provide flooring and furniture for its ever-expanding middle class, and in its place will grow vast plantations for palm oil, an increasingly popular ingredient in detergents, soaps and lipstick.... Merbau wood, mostly prevalent in Papua's virgin forests, has been illegally logged and shipped to China since the late 1990's, stripping large swathes of forest in the Indonesian province on the western side of the island of New Guinea. The decision to award a $1 billion concession to China will "increase the deforestation of Papua," a place of extraordinary biodiversity, said Elfian Effendy, executive director of Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental watchdog. "It's not sustainable."

Perhaps its time to not only refuse to purchase floors made from unsustainable materials, but to refuse to walk on them. ::New York Times and be sure to watch the video.More from the Times:

Until now, the forests at these higher elevations have been protected by their sheer inaccessibility. To get back to the coast from the research station, for instance, takes a 15-hour journey along a 350-mile stretch of the Bahau and Kayan Rivers in a wooden longboat powered by three outboard motors.

In contrast, the forests in lowland Kalimantan, where roads have been hacked into the land already, are so ravaged by logging that they will have disappeared by 2010, the World Bank says.

As the roads start penetrating the area of Mr. Anyie's clan, the upland forests will begin to disappear here, too. The solution is to adopt sustainable management plans, Mr. Wulffraat said.

Such plans allow logging only in specially certified areas, he said. But so far, he said, they have proved a losing proposition.

"In about 30 years," Mr. Anyie said, "the forest will be gone."