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Conservation or exploitation? The debate is not new. It even starts dating.


The eternal clashes between those who advocate for the unconditional
protection of natural sanctuaries and those who defend the economic
interests of forest companies seem even out of fashion. A middle way
begins to impose between two points of view judged a long time
irreconcilable. But at the rate at which tropical forests are deteriorating,
there is an urgent need to translate into the field a policy to sustain forest
resources.

On the African continent, which holds one fifth of the world's tropical
forests, it is difficult to establish a list of risks in exposed areas. The
proliferation of slash-and-burn agriculture has largely degraded the Ivorian
forest while Gabon has more to fear from the opening of its forest cover to
the industrial exploitation of wood. The construction of roads and
infrastructure in forests most often leads to an influx of uncontrollable
population, which only increases deforestation.

But this is not the only side effect. Hunting is also linked to logging, with the
game trade offering lucrative opportunities. A forestry worker can double
his salary by poaching a chimpanzee, and the digging of roads, can sell the
products of the hunt to large cities where a flourishing market is growing.

The exploitation is mostly entrusted to private European or Asian


companies. As a rule, the resulting selective exploitation does not lead to
massive deforestation. And a well-managed forest can later provide a new
harvest of wood. However, in some cases, farmers want to make their
concessions as profitable as possible and in much shorter time from an
ecological point of view. Blaming the administrative authorities for the lack
of a long-term forestry policy, they take advantage of the length of their
permits to exploit indiscriminately anything that can be sold in order to
increase their profit margins.

On the other hand, the countries holding part of the tropical forest make it
an optimal source of income in the short term. For those states that are
burdened by the often unsustainable external debt, silviculture income in
foreign currency is an important part of their budget and gross domestic
product. Job creator, the industry also helps to rebalance a trade balance
that is often disadvantageous, while diversifying local activities.
Nevertheless, good governance appears to be a crucial factor for the future
of the forest. In some countries, decision-making is in the hands of a small
group of people or clans in the government who see primary forests as a
short-term source of personal income, resulting in profits to the investor
and to certain officials. Corruption is felt at different levels: Salaries are so
low that employees are tempted to accept bribes to approve business plans
they have never seen.

Faced with this market pressure coupled with a lack of rational control, is
the forest condemned? Not necessarily, but it's not about underestimating
the threat.

Several countries have begun to apply the principles of intelligent


management of a resource long considered inexhaustible. At the same time,
foresters converted to management in order to carry out a rational forestry
operation. It remains to make these principles a rule for all. Otherwise the
lungs of the earth will inexorably disappear. At the rate of twenty football
pitches per minute.