Is Buying Rain Forest Land
Such a Good Idea?

By Jennifer Wong, Angèle Marchand, TG youth journalists

Buying rain forests to conserve and protect, has many positive and negative aspects. Willem Ferwerda, rain forest specialist from IUCN Netherlands "We can use the forest and its resources, but in a sustainable way." If people recognised and acted upon it, guards would be unnecessary and the forest wouldn't suffer its current deterioration. Resources unlawfully taken include lumber, monkeys, and medicines from plants. The Kakamega forest on Uganda border and Kenya is approximately forty thousand hectares in size and surrounded by twenty schools.

Unfortunately, he says the Kenyan government only employs two official guards to protect this vast forest of valuable resources. This lack of protection enables the pressure of forty to fifty thousand surrounding inhabitants to steal and destroy the forest elements.

Changing selfish attitudes remembering the Native people who originally lived on the land, requires working to change this attitude "working with the people rather than against them," he says.

Fencing-in the rain forest is far too expensive and ineffective in keeping people out. There aren't sufficient funds to buy large amounts of land and employing enough guards. This suggestion has a few positive elements. This entirely depends on the new land owners intentions. The probability of conserving land increases with the size of a company's fund. With this sort of action, the reduction of "free-fall" may occur. Having genuine land investors with conservation motives will prevent buyers that misuse and abuse the land.

Willem Ferwerda said it best of all that, "We must recognize that without these forests we cannot survive. Without the trees we won't have water and oxygen." Ferwerda suggests that the first step is to understand that "we need the forest more than the forest needs us."