[QODLink]
earthrise
Belize's Hidden Treasure
Hardwood logs lying submerged on a riverbed for 200 years could prove invaluable to preserving Belize's rainforests.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2012 19:44

Sharita Hutton takes a boat down the Belize River to find out about a project that is reducing deforestation by tracking down precious woods in the most unlikely of places – at the bottom of the river.

The world's hardwoods are disappearing fast, with 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares) of rainforest cut down every second. This in turn causes the loss of an estimated 50,000 species of hardwood each year.

From the Amazon Basin to the forests of Southeast Asia, extensive logging has resulted in the disappearance of huge swaths of hardwood supplies, and world population growth is putting pressure on governments to gain quick cash flow by cutting down what is left of their hardwood forests.

But in the Central American country of Belize, there is a supply of hardwoods that was cut since 200 years ago that could help meet the demand without cutting down the remnants of existing forests.

Starting from March, 2011, a new venture between a US logging company and the Belize government began harvesting logs that were cut down as long ago as the 18th and 19th centuries.

Historically, logs were floated down the river to transport them to market in Belize City, and in the process, as many as 50 per cent of them sank to the bottom.

According to Rich Petty of Greener Lumber, "there was a time when you couldn't even see the water for the logs".

Because of the type of wood and the type of environment, the timber is still well preserved today, and when retrieved it will find keen buyers in places such as the US and Europe.

Using divers and modern technology, the goal is to extract as much as 20,000 board feet (47 cubic metres) of logs per week and ship this old-growth mahogany and five other species to the global markets.

Sharita braves the chilly water and dives to the river bed to discover the incredible submerged treasures, which could prove invaluable for preserving Belize's rainforests.

 
earthrise airs each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.

Click here for more on earthrise.
Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.