Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fall of the yellowwood

Back in mid-March, I wrote about the extreme endangeredness of South Africa's Cape parrot.  It turns out that the nearness of extinction is not just about the parrot, it's also about the entire forest ecosystem that the Cape parrot inhabits -- the yellowwood forest.

National Geographic has an article about this, an ecosystem decline I had not heard about before.  Nonetheless, it is another example of how humankind's expansion is directly connected (not that this is surprising or anything) to naturekind's dimunition.  I wish it was different.  I wish that a powerful world government could control the air, the water, and the population.  Because that's really the only rational course that might preserve the amazing diversity of the world we all live on.

The State of South Africa's Yellowwood Forests:  An Open Letter to the President [ of South Africa ]

The full article is long, but worth reading.  Here's an interesting point:

 All yellowwood trees are now protected. Permits are, however, still active that allow sawmills to harvest yellowwood trees up to their quota every year. Most of trees felled are over 150-200 years old and irreplaceable. The equivalent of 600 cubic meters of yellowwood timber or anywhere between 20 and 100 large yellowwood trees are felled legally each year in the Amathole region alone. The fact is that, if we continue, legal and illegal logging will very soon destroy our national forests. We have seen more yellowwood tree poaching in the last three years than in previous years and record the loss of important yellowwood trees every year. Some desperate local communities in the Transkei region are burning yellowwood as firewood. Now is the time to protect our golden indigenous forests. Right now there are harvesting contractors targeting the last-remaining intact yellowwood forest patches, eroding our natural heritage every day that yellowwood extraction continues. Today, only a handful of yellowwood trees over 500-years-old remain scattered in remote, degraded forest patches protected from historical and illegal logging by inaccessibility, proud landowners and local foresters. In King William’s Town and Keiskammahoek (Eastern Cape) you can see 200, even 300-year-old yellowwood trees being chopped up at saw mills. Yellowwood planks are now valued at up to R25,000 ($3,000) per cubic meter, an increase in value of over 400% in the last 6 years. This sets a high price for our natural heritage, as legal yellowwood timber is getting harder to source and prices are being driven even higher."

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