am 6. August 1999
Bad Harvest? condemns the international timber trade and advocates a new strategy for the sustainable management of the world's forests. It is, therefore, of relevance to environmental and development economists, foresters and timber traders alike.
Bad Harvest? attempts to debunk the accepted view that slash-and-burn cultivation is the major cause of global deforestation. It argues that the timber trade is the primary threat to the world's forests and examines the role that the timber trade has played in global deforestation. However, many countries-and not just those in the Third World-clear vast tracts of forest to make way for agricultural food production. While global demand for wood is increasing, there are plainly other factors at work.
Bad Harvest? is just another addition to the body of alarmist literature churned out by environmental NGOs. Alarmist tactics, unfortunately, drive consumers away from wood, one of the most environmentally-friendly products available, to substitutes such as aluminium, plastic, glass, iron or steel. In their production, these substitutes require more energy than wood, and more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, thus contributing to global warming. It would be lamentable if this book unwittingly revives the boycott of wood, which in recent years has led to a partial boycott of tropical timber imports in a number of OECD countries. This has had the negative economic consequences of devaluing wood, and accelerating the conversion of forests to other land use in tropical countries. It is vital that in trying to solve the problem of the world's forests, the authors do not inadvertently contribute to the creation of a whole new set of economic and social problems.