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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

Tropical Rainforests

The Sierra Club recognizes that there is dramatic deterioration of the world's tropical rainforest resource from a multitude of causes and that, at the current rate of loss, projections indicate that by the year 2000 most of the accessible tropical forests of the world will disappear. The Sierra Club maintains that existing institutional measures to control tropical deforestation are insufficient to secure vital reservoirs of genetic diversity or to prevent severe deterioration in watershed quality throughout the developing countries of the tropics.

The Sierra Club believes that:

  1. The United States and Canada should develop stronger policies and undertake timely actions sufficient to assist nations with tropical forests in the environmentally sound management and conservation of this resource;
  2. The United States and Canada, because of their leadership in science and technology, have a special responsibility to finance and participate in research on the impacts of tropical deforestation and their mitigation; and
  3. A structure of private-sector incentives should be set up encouraging U.S. transnational corporate overseas operations, particularly timber, pulp, and cattle production in the tropics, to mitigate and eliminate whenever feasible the destructive impacts of these activities on the rainforest biome. Such activities should be avoided entirely in especially critical areas, which have already been identified in many regions.
  4. The Sierra Club will continue with renewed commitment its participation in the activities of the U.S. environmental communities Tropical Forest Working Group through its international committee, International Earthcare Center, and Tropical Forest Program volunteer professionals. Ongoing programs of information exchange and administrative policy monitoring, and field projects may, as appropriate, be coordinated with the efforts of the Working Group.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, November 15, 1980

Tropical Rainforests

[6 paragraphs of "whereas'es" omitted here]

Be it resolved:

  1. that soil-vegetation surveys for land capability classification purposes be carried out and used in land-control policy before additional forest clearing is permitted. Ill-advised conversion of tropical forests, both through shifting cultivation by squatters or government land-settlement schemes, is having a devastating effect on tropical forest ecosystems, and not producing a long-term viable agricultural land use. Especially critical are steep slopes, erosive soils, and soil where fertility rapidly degrades following tree removal.
  2. The forest units designated to be production units (whether state or private) be handled with care, applying the best we know how in silvicultural practice and logging techniques to retain these areas in primary tropical forest species; and that, moreover, multiple-use policy giving regard to important watershed, wildlife and recreational values be adopted immediately before theses values are destroyed by single- minded emphasis on forest exploitation.
  3. That many more areas to tropical forest need to be set aside permanently as parks and reserves. The need for these reserves for recreational, scientific or educational use is clear and urgent. Representative areas of most of the remaining significant types of communities with their associated fauna should be identified and set aside. Especially important in this connection are upper watersheds, riverine and estuarine areas and particular scenic areas. Superlative stands of complex forests need preservation as national heritage.
  4. That the culture and human rights of primitive native peoples living in the rainforests of the world must be recognized in any planning program.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, January 12-13, 1974

Temperate Rainforests

Recognizing that the temperate rainforests of North America are essential ecologically and scenically, and that they are being destroyed at an increasingly rapid rate, the Sierra Club urges the governments of Canada and the United States to make a major effort to protect as much of the remaining federal and crown rainforests as is necessary to preserve significant old-growth stands, to preserve the present biological diversity of the ecosystem, and to provide a recreational resource for present and future generations. Consideration should be given to protecting many of these forests as national, provincial, state and international parks and wilderness areas.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, May 8, 1988

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