Why does an investment guide for a sustainable Amazon leave out wood?

In their article, “Investing in Amazon Rainforest Conservation: A Foreigner’s Perspective (commentary”, Jonah Wittkamper tries to identify ways in which investors and philanthropists can help “develop a sustainable Amazon rainforest”.

Wittkamper focuses on market-based opportunities ranging from carbon sequestration, to ecotourism to biotech with mentions of indigenous handcrafts and even what he calls “responsible mining”.

The article was published in Mongabay’s “Amazon Conservation” series on April 21, 2020.

Although one can appreciate the market-based approach to forest conservation, Wittkamper mysteriously leaves out one of the largest markets for forest products in the Amazon – wood.

 “Wood” is only mentioned once in their commentary.

To remain forests, forests have to generate cash for the people and communities that live within them. (According to the WWF, 30 million people live in the Amazon biome.) And for many parts of the Amazon basin, wood is the major generator of cash from forests. 

In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso wood product export revenue reportedly exceeded US$149 Million in 2017.

By excluding wood, Wittkamper fails to highlight one of the biggest sustainable development opportunities for the people and forests of the Amazon.

If the purpose of the article was to identify ways in which investors and philanthropists can help “develop a sustainable Amazon rainforest”, why would they omit the market for wood products?

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Point of Harvest is an open source publication. If you’d like to suggest edits to this document or to submit your own, contact us.

Header photo:   Nareeta Martin


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