In 2001, Brazil declared a moratorium on logging Genuine Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). This past August, Brazilian Mahogany was exported to the United States carrying the seal of the Forest Stewardship Council.
This marks a major advance for forest conservation in Brazil. In order to out-compete other land uses, forests need to provide cash flow for local communities and governments. Otherwise, forests are often converted to land uses with higher net-present values.
Genuine Mahogany is a cash cow for tropical forest owners. With a limited growing stock and consistent demand in international luxury markets, Genuine Mahogany commands a price premium, especially when it’s FSC-certified. Additionally, the logs have relatively high yields and there exist well-developed markets for lower lumber grades.
The contribution of Genuine Mahogany to the cash flow value of forests, and subsequently their conservation, is evident in the Genuine Mahogany forests of Guatemala. Here, exports of Genuine Mahogany make up the majority of shipments to the U.S. market. At the same time, these logging concessions have proven better at protecting forests than the “protected areas” of nearby National Parks.
With the resumption of commercial Genuine Mahogany logging from natural forests in Brazil, the Brazilian government, the forest products industry, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the tropical hardwood market have created another competitive advantage for Brazil’s Amazon forest.
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