New Mapping Technology Shows Where Forest-Based Enterprises are Good for Tropical Forests

New forest mapping technologies such as Global Forest Watch allow us to literally see where sustainable forest-based enterprises are good for tropical forests. For example, if we zoom in on the northern Petén department of Guatemala (Figure 1) we can see the tree cover loss from 2001 to 2015 (in pink).

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Figure 1. Tree cover loss in northern Guatemala 2000 – 2015. (Source: Global Forest Watch)

What’s noticeable is that almost all of the deforestation occurred outside of a clearly delineated white area. Interestingly, this white area is largely made up of forest concessions that commercially harvest forest products, including timber. Here is a map (Figure 2) of these forest concessions (shaded polygons):

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Figure 2. Map of forest concessions in northern Guatemala. (Source: Radachowsky et al. 2012)

Also noticeable (Figure 3) is that the National Parks of Laguna del Tigre and Sierra del Lacandón, located in the western boundary of the map, have significantly more tree cover loss than the forest concessions.


Peten, Guatemala - Protected Areas
Figure 3. Protected areas showing tree cover loss 2000 – 2015 (highlighted in red)


This is just one example where we can see that forests managed for the commercial harvesting of forest products, including timber, have been more effective in preventing deforestation than protected areas.

In the next post, we will look at why forests managed for commercial timber harvests can be more effective in preventing tree loss than protected areas.

Like this post? Have a problem with it? Have other ideas? Please leave a comment below!

This article was adapted from the following presentation: Barany, Marc. “Costos de Transacción Desde la Perspectiva de un Comprador.” Foro de Gobernanza, Sistemas de Verificación de la Legalidad y Competitividad del Sector Forestal en Guatemala y Honduras. Antigua, Guatemala. February 26, 2015.

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