So how do you solve deforestation? Should we stop using paper? Should we stop building houses made of wood?
Of course, reducing our use of paper and recycling can help. But really this issue comes down to managing the forests better, through the use of something called “sustainable forestry.” When large patches of forest are clear-cut, they take ages to grow back. But when only small patches are cut down, the soil, the shade, the seeds, and the rest of the ecosystem are preserved. Using this strategy, forests will grow back in 30-40 years, rather than 300-400 or more.
Today in class, students were asked to play the board game again. But this time, they were encouraged to use sustainable forestry practices through the addition of a new law: for every tree that did not grow back by the end of the game, students were fined $175. In most cases, this was all the encouragement they needed. Instead of clearing large swaths of land, students zigzagged their way across the forests, cutting only small patches and leaving the ecosystem intact, so it could regrow.
It’s not a perfect solution. Students made a bit less profit than they did on Wednesday, and the game moved a bit slower. But the squirrels will thank us, and so will our grand-kids.
May 20 – Logging In the Amazon Lab Day 2 (pg712)