IHPA represents and defends the interests of the U.S. tropical-timber trade. Its claim that RAN is misinforming the public in order to raise money is ironic. It's the timber industry that profits from the multi-billion-dollar status quo; not our relatively small non-profit activist organization.
It's a classic case of shooting the messenger because you don't like the message.
IHPA blithely ignores official 1993 UN FAO statistics showing an average deforestation rate of 38 million acres a year during the 1980s. Instead, IHPA uses more convenient "research being conducted." IHPA uses other numbers selectively throughout its piece to falsely claim that the trade is only a small contributor to the problem. One must ask, who profits by misinformation.
The U.S. market, regardless of its share of tropical-timber consumption by physical volume, in reality is still the world's largest market by dollar value. U.S. demand is a major driver of the international market, so the U.S. plays a direct and undeniable role in global deforestation. U.S. consumer preference also wields global influence, as other countries look to us for the latest trends.
Consumers should be aware that not all woods are created equal, as IHPA's kwh calculations imply. One can feel good about using some woods instead of plastics, but when you calculate factors like species extinction, tropical woods have a much higher "true cost" than domestic supplies. Half of all the world's plants and animals live in tropical forests. Exotic wood furniture might have cost the extinction of a rare orchid which lived only in the acre of forest cleared for the wood. That's not true for a bookshelf from long-standing pine plantations. Commercial logging is not the entire story of deforestation. It is, however, an arena in which we Americans can act with power to help protect tropical rainforest ecosystems.
IHPA uses a Forest Service study to defend its opposition to CITES listing for mahogany. But the Fish and Wildlife Service publicly opposed the Forest Service position. Our sources say that during the secret ballot, the U.S. voted mahogany listing. Bottom line: mahogany is threatened and many scientists and governments (including our own) agree it needs protection.
IHPA claims to care about forests, and it points to programs "aimed" at the problem. Sadly, virtually none hit the target. We think the readers of WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS care a great deal more about the forests than IHPA's industry apologists.
One cannot replant tropical rainforests on a commercial scale, only tree farms. Trees in the rainforest are only one part of the ecosystem among thousands.
RAN sees IHPA's claim that its members "have embraced" environmental harvesting policies as just more industry rhetoric. If all laws are being followed, then why do U.S. mahogany importers continue to buy from companies repeatedly found guilty in Brazilian courts for illegal logging on native lands?
Rainforest communities have been sustaining themselves for tens of thousands of years and have a lot to teach us. They have intricate farming, hunting, fishing and food-gathering systems and economies based on trade in forest products including medicinal plants, gums, resins, fruit and some wood. Industrial logging undermines their local economies and their future.
RAN does not advocate doing without wood or paper as IHPA implies. We propose cutting waste, switching to alternative materials and using "tree-free" recycled and agricultural fibers in the production of paper and paneling.
Our call to reduce wood and paper use was printed on 100% tree-free paper made from kenaf. IHPA knows the paper was tree-free. Starting this month, our two newsletters will be printed on kenaf or 100%-recycled paper.
Our program obviously frightens IHPA, but Americans should realize what we are actually calling for: "a 75% reduction in wood and paper use in the United States within 10 years with the express purpose of increasing meaningful employment, creating a healthy society and restoring natural habitats.
Additionally, we call upon the American people, communities, industry and government to work together to achieve this goal.
If that's the kind of common sense you like, join us.
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|Title Annotation:||Point Counterpoint; response to article by Robert Waffle in this journal, p. 87|
|Publication:||Wood & Wood Products|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1995|
|Next Article:||Wood alternatives.|