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Tomorrow Today

Can labels stop the rapid loss of rainforests?

"Forest certification could be a very strong tool in the avoidance of illegal logging." says Ulrich Bick, an expert on sustainable forest management at the Hamburg Institute for World Forestry.

Watch video 03:41

DW

Can labels actually stop the rapid loss of rainforests on this planet?

Ulrich Bick
Forest certification leike "Forest Stewardship Council" could be a very strong tool in the avoidance of illegal logging.

DW

It's 13 million acres a year that are being cut down. Is that all due to illegal logging?


UB
No, only a small share is illegal logging. The main area is lost by changing of land use. So forests are changed into agricultural land - that's the main share.


DW
If we all have certifications and labels like the FSC, then we might have a sustainable management of forests. Can that really be done in a way that the ecosystem is not being disturbed there?

UB

Well, before certification started, we had a lot of research concerning the ecosystem of forests, and so there are a lot of things that are not still unknown but I think it's possible to manage a tropical forest system.
 

DW
Might it even be important to take out trees and allow the population there to harvest trees from the forests?

 

UB
Well, it's a big advantage for the population in this area to manage their forests sustainably. On the other hand, if there's illegal logging, they have no money for the governance and things like that, so the avoidance of illegal logging is a very important issue.  
 

DW
How high is actually the percentage of the forests that are being managed according to labels like FSC?

 

UB
For the global view, it's about ten to eleven percent, with very different local differences. In Europe and the boreal zone we have much, much more than ten percent, and in some developing tropical countries, it's less.
 

DW
But that's not very much. Are you optimistic that this amount and this percentage can be raised to one hundred percent?

 

UB
One hundred percent is very, very, very optimistic goal, but I guess that we can in the future share that amount, increase that amount enormously.
 

DW
How can science actually help to reach that goal?

 

UB
Oh, they are to analyse the forest ecosystem on the one hand and on the other hand to avoid the illegal logging, to identify the origin and the species of timber so they can say what the risk is that this timber source is illegal.

DW
Can you actually trace back the origin of a single tree to the rainforest it comes from?

 

UB
Yes, for a small amount of species we can, but in future we'll strengthen our research activities in this and maybe in a couple of years we'll have the chance to have a broader basis.

(Interview: Ingolf Baur)