Dollars and chainsaws: Can timber production help fund global reforestation?

By Gianluca Cerullo
January 5, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: International

As global reforestation commitments grow, how will companies, governments and communities pay to restore forest ecosystems and help sequester carbon over the long-term? One option: Grow and sell timber on the same plots of land where reforestation work is underway, as exemplified by pioneering restoration projects in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, where a single harvest of fast-growing eucalyptus grows up amid restored native trees. Eucalyptus sales then help pay for long-term restoration. Another approach is to concurrently grow tree plantations and forest restorations on separate, often adjacent, plots of land, with a large portion of the profits from timber harvests going to support the long-term management of the reforestation projects. But some scientists and forest advocates worry that projects or businesses that become over reliant on timber revenues to finance restoration could undermine an initiative’s environmental benefits, and lock in unintended harvesting within native ecosystems. Experts ask: Can we truly pay for new trees by cutting others down?

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