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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Brazil extends moratorium on cutting mahogany

Brazil extends moratorium on cutting mahogany

Date : 15th February 2003, Source : Associated Press

Brazil extends moratorium on cutting mahogany

By Michael Astor, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva extended a six-year-old moratorium on logging mahogany for another 150 days on Thursday to allow a commission to examine options for sustainable harvesting. The tropical hardwood is one of the most valuable tree species in the Amazon region. Logging it has caused much rainforest destruction.

But logging also accounts for about 15 percent of the economy in the Brazilian Amazon and is responsible for about half a million jobs in the poor and sparsely populated region. The ministry estimates that mahogany logging between 1971 and 2001 generated about US$3.9 billion for Brazil.

Many scientists believe tropical hardwood species can be logged in a sustainable way using a series of practices that allow valuable trees to be cut down with a minimum of impact to the surrounding forest. There are areas then left untouched for decades to allow the forest to regenerate.

Because no study has accompanied the forest regeneration over the 40 or 50 years a mahogany tree needs to grow to maturity, the efficacy of these practices remains unproven.

In November, the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species voted to limit trade of bigleaf mahogany by listing it as a threatened species. Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru -- the countries with the largest mahogany reserves -- opposed the measure, claiming their conservation measures were sufficient to protect the tree. The newly formed commission that will look at sustainable harvesting also has been charged with making sure Brazil complies with endangered species convention, the ministry said.

The current moratorium prohibits mahogany logging except by companies that had management plans approved by Brazil's environmental protection agency prior to 1996, when the measure took effect. According to the environmental protection agency, there were almost no companies with approved management plans.

The agency has seized more than hundreds of thousands of cubic meters (yards) of illegally logged mahogany since the moratorium was put in place, likely only a fraction of what made its way to market. Some environmental groups have criticized the moratorium, saying that by making virtually all mahogany logging illegal, loggers have little incentive to employ forestry management practices.

Source: Associated Press

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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