Sierra Club Conservation Policies
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:
- 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;
- 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
- 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.
- 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
[6 paragraphs of "whereas'es" omitted here]
Be it resolved:
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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