The word ‘sustainable’ is used a lot
by economists, environmentalists, politicians and geographers. When
you have worked through this site and some of the activities, you
should have a good idea of what is sustainable and what is not.
|Above: Mahogany produces a beautiful wood
which is very popular for furniture. This – and the fact
it is difficult to grow in plantations – makes it the
most valuable tree in the Belize forests where it has been harvested
for the last 150 years. Photo: Greenpeace
On the RBCMA there are at least 200 tree species.
Over 60 of these are useful as timber and could be sold on the international
market. The aim of the project is to show how timber can be harvested
commercially, and almost continuously, but with minimum damage to
the environment and wildlife. In fact, the project aims to improve
the ‘quality’ of the forest. (It is not in itself a
commercial operation as any profits will be go towards further conservation
work.) Because the life cycle of trees is so long and the ecology
of the rainforest is so complex, experiments have to be long term.
Most commercial logging companies would not be willing to do it.
Not all of the RBMCA is being logged. The land donated by WLT is
being kept as a Totally Protected Area and some other parts of the
forest are not suitable for logging. Less than 20% of the area is
being used for timber extraction (felling and transporting trees)
starting on land donated by Coca-Cola. Some logging had already
recently taken place on this land. For this area, a strict plan
has been worked out to make sure that environmental damage is limited
but that enough good quality timber can be harvested every year
to make a profit