Low-impact forestry benefits all

The gifts of the forest are countless, but for all of us to enjoy them, we need low-impact, sustainable forestry.

Forests provide us with clean air and waters, and they protect the biodiversity on which the entire great chain of life on Earth depends. But they give us, first and foremost, their wood. We all appreciate wooden furniture (plastic, anyone?!?). Some of us recently (re-)discovered the comfort of a wooden house. Wood finds its place in various, surprising objects that we surround ourselves with – from paper to clothes and even to medicine or food!

Wood is the sustainable alternative for a large variety of plastic products, many of them single use. It is expected that the demand for this green resource will grow a lot over the next few years.

For all these products, wood must be harvested, transported out of the forest and processed. How do we do that, without impacting the eco-systemic functions mentioned above?

Last autumn we presented to you our solution: the modular, wooden forestry bridge.

The modular bridge helps protect nature

Last week we set up the third bridge, together with our friends from Zetea Forest Management Unit in Harghita county. The bridge was built on the river Ivó, in a plot with regeneration cuts – a part of the forest where some of the trees are progressively harvested, in order for their seeds to sprout, “colonize” the empty slots, and grow into full-blown trees.

Principal products are the most valuable wooden material, usually taken over by the furniture industry and constructions. Of all the types of wood, it usually offers the greatest quality.

Important here is how do we remove this wood from the forest. Not an easy task, not at all. Unless special measures are taken, it can easily become destructive.

Here is why:

In the mountains, from a part of the forest designated for regeneration cuts, about 1,000 cubic meters of wood are harvested. This means that a forest tractor, which can pull only about 5 cubic meters, must cross clear waters of rivers harbouring hundreds of species of animals and plants about 200 times!

Crossing the river greatly impacts the banks and the river habitats, stirs the waterbed and muddies the waters – this spells disaster for sensitive species of fish, amphibians, other animals and plants.

Low-impact forestry benefits all

Crossing on the bridge also means less wear and tear for the work equipment, and a reduced fuel consumption. This, in turn, means a significant reduction of both costs of operating the machinery and of the emissions they produce. In the end, all these economies are transformed in more wellbeing for the communities: from wages to investments, taxes and development. Win-win!

The bridge was build using local workforce and renewable materials (with exception of the iron screws and bolts, which can be reused). Since it is mobile, it can be moved from one harvesting plot to the next.

Innovation and technology transfer for environment-friendly forestry that is at the same time effective for developing communities is one of the main focal points of the new grants programme we developed, Communities of Tomorrow’s Forest. Do you have an idea or know someone with a great project in sustainable forestry? Apply before March 31!