How to get rid of woodlice using pest control

How to get rid of woodlice using pest control

A single woodlouse, (pea bugs and roly-polies are also commonly used names due to the woodlouse’s ability to roll itself into a ball when in danger) may not bother you too much, however, an infestation of woodlice (the plural for woodlouse) is usually a sign that your home has sufficient damp and decaying wood for them to thrive. If this happens in your home or business it means it’s time to call pest control professionals immediately.

There are different ways to get rid of them, some won’t harm them, while other pest control methods involve the use of commercial chemicals which will kill them. There are of course other ‘home remedies’ which may be worth investigating if you have a woodlice problem. Whether they actually work or not is questionable.

It’s worth mentioning that woodlice aren’t harmful to health. If fact, in the garden they are one of nature’s cleaners, clearing up rotting leaves and debris on your behalf. They’re also useful in your compost bin as they’ll help to turn your rotting fruit and vegetables into organic matter.

It’s also worth knowing that woodlice won’t actually come into your home and start munching their way through your woodwork or wood furniture, despite what you may have been told or heard. In reality, they only eat what’s already decaying. They simply take advantage of what’s readily available.

How to get rid of woodlice without using chemicals pest controls:

  • Sweep them up with a dust pan and brush and put them back outside, a sufficient distance away from your house, where they belong.
  • Use the nozzle attachment of your hoover and suck them up – empty the contents of your hoover bag or cylinder into the compost bin.
  • Prevent them from getting into your home by making sure you don’t have any damp, moist places which will attract them.
  • Clear away leaves and debris from the outside walls of your home, especially near ventilation bricks and grilles.
  • Keep your outside drains and gutters clear of debris.
  • Plug any gaps around windows and doors using sealant or caulking.
  • Keep your home completely dry and warm and they’ll soon find somewhere else to live.
  • Move flowerpots and flower containers away from window ledges and doors.

How to get rid of woodlice using commercial chemicals pest controls:

  • Woodlice can be killed using ant and insects powders – just sprinkle the area where they live with the powder (following the manufacturer’s instructions) and they’ll soon be dead. Powders are also advisable rather than sprays if the infestation is near electricity plugs or in kitchens.
  • Chemical sprays are also an effective way of getting rid of them and work extremely fast.
  • Fumers and foggers can get rid of an infestation swiftly. These are particularly useful for hard to reach places as the fumes and mists will get to the smallest places.

Always read the ingredients and warnings when using chemicals as some are harmful to humans and pets.

Home remedies for getting rid of woodlice:

  • Hairspray is said to be an effective treatment.
  • Using a blowtorch is one of the most used home treatments – this method is NOT recommended as woodlice live near wood – need we say more?

As you can see there are plenty of ways to get rid of woodlice from your home. If you don’t fancy the idea for tackling them yourself you can always call in pest control experts to solve the problem for you.

For further information on keeping pest control on woodlice at bay call Safeguard Pest Control on 0800 328 4931.

www.safeguardpestcontrol.co.uk

Natural Disasters- Cause and Effects

Natural disasters as we all know are the consequences of events triggered by natural hazards that overwhelm local response capacity and seriously affect the social and economic development of a region. There is basically no human control over the natural disaster. We cannot stop these natural disasters but what is in our hands is to be prepared for these. Also, there are a lot of ways through which we can minimize the damage caused due to these natural disasters. Traditionally, natural disasters have been seen as situations that create challenges and problems mainly of a humanitarian nature. There is no way to prevent or avert these natural disasters, though scientists do claim to have found the ways to predict these natural disasters at most of the times they have failed to predict natural disasters causing some serious destruction.

During the last few years, there has been an increase in the reports of natural disasters as well as destruction caused due to these disasters. The tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes, which hit parts of Asia and the Americas in 2004/2005 are some examples of natural disasters in past few years and floods in the parts of Uttarakhand is a recent example of the destruction caused due to these natural calamities. These calamities have led to the displacement of a lot of people and heavy loss of life as well as the property was also reported. Not just these few cases, natural disasters can be of many types which may include volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, drought, landslides, or earthquakes etc.

From past many years, there has been a constant debate on the topic of natural disasters and the human role in the same. A lot of human practices, as well as rapidly growing developmental activities, have been blamed for the constant rise of these natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and tsunamis in past few years. One of the major causes of natural disasters has been attributed to the global warming, which has sparked debate analyzing what the effects may be. The reality at present is that we are experiencing an increasing number of natural disasters, and disaster preparedness is an area still to develop. Also along with the disaster preparedness, there is a need to keep a check on developmental activities so that we could have a sustained environment.

Types of Natural Disasters

The natural disaster is the consequence when a natural hazard affects humans in an adverse manner. Human vulnerability, caused by the lack of appropriate preparedness often leads to financial, environmental, or human impact in a negative manner. A natural disaster always brings along loss of life and property damage, and typically leaves economic damage in its wake, the severity of which depends on the intensity of the disaster. At times there can be some minor losses only whereas human life has also witnessed few disasters that have caused a major loss of life and property as well.

The resulting loss due to a natural disaster also depends on the capacity of the population or authorities to support or resist the disaster as well as emergency preparedness. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: «disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability». A natural hazard will hence never result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g., strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas. The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement. Different types of natural disasters can be:

  • Tsunamis
  • Earthquakes
  • Avalanches
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslides
  • Floods
  • Droughts
  • Forest fires
  • Hurricanes
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Winter storms
  • Heat Waves

Causes of Natural Disasters

  • There are different types of natural disasters and depending on different types of disasters the causes are also different. For example, the causes of an earthquake cannot be the same as that of forest-fire. Natural disasters are caused due to different reasons like soil erosion, seismic activity, tectonic movements, air pressure, and ocean currents etc. natural disaster is not a new phenomenon these natural events have occurred since the earth began forming and continue to cause serious damage and loss of life all over the globe from many years. The root causes of most of the natural disasters that occur on earth can be attributed to the imbalance created in our environment. This imbalance may either be in the form of air pollution, noise pollution or water pollution and the collective effect of these imbalances are also one of the few reasons for the natural disaster. Though it also a fact that we cannot blame anyone because this is just one of the few reasons. Natural disasters like earthquake, floods etc have also occurred in past era when the human was far away from modernization. So it would not be fair enough to blame modernization for the same.
  • Natural activities taking place in the earth’s crust, as well as surface, are the main reasons for these disasters. Seismic activity caused by earthquakes have been the root cause of volcanoes erupting and typhoons. It has been studied that the continents sit on huge plates that occasionally shift and when these plates shift they cause an increase in pressure underneath the earth’s surface which is also a cause of natural disasters. Tectonic movements in the earth’s crust are responsible for the earthquakes, which at times can get really dangerous and may lead to some heavy loss of life and property. In areas where volcanoes have formed by solidified magma, pressure from gasses and magma can explode or erupt to send tons of ash into the atmosphere.
  • The activity of the moon determines the ocean waves which can get really high during the full moon and at times these can be really dangerous. It was also observed that deadly December 2004 tsunami also occurred on a full moon night. The earthquake was caused when the Indian Plate was subducted by the Burma Plate and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (98 ft) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.
  • Changing ocean currents are also dangerous at times and can result in changes in water temperature which could result in a global food shortage by killing fish and ocean plant life. These changing oceanic currents could also adversely affect the intensity as well as the frequency of storms. Tornadoes which are really dangerous are often formed by the interaction of high and low-pressure air and these have proved to be really dangerous as well as devastating for many communities in the area of America, especially the area of Tornado Alley. Air pressure, high and low determines whether or not we have thunderstorms, rain and hurricanes. Flooding and high winds are caused by the crashing together of low and high-pressure air. Damage caused by flooding and hurricanes along coastal cities and towns can be really difficult to overcome for their victims.
  • Natural Disasters are a set of naturally occurring events which can directly or indirectly cause severe threats to human health and well-being and adversely affects the human life for quite some time. It has been witnessed that the natural disasters have their root causes in the normal activities of the earth. However during the past few years, we have witnessed some rapid modernization and growth, man’s increased knowledge and technology has served to trigger for some natural disasters. Flooding and erosion can occur are really prone to the areas where mining, deforestation, and manufacturing have taken place. Global warming, which could eventually affect the ocean currents, has its roots in modern man’s overuse of fossil fuels. Earthquakes resulting as a result of tectonic movements and movements of plates inside the earth’s crust can also be triggered by drilling, bombing, mining, and construction.
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The Impact of Human Activities on Natural Disasters

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Don’t Kill Woodlice (Pill Bugs): Nature’s Recyclers

Friends say I have «green-fingers,» and the garden certainly responds to my efforts. I enjoy watching wildlife and being outdoors.

Woodlice Visit Your Home in Autumn

Don’t be too quick to get rid of woodlice. You may not want them in your home, but they play a valuable role in your garden. They have a key role in nature’s cycle of decomposition and regrowth.

Their normal home is outdoors amongst garden leaf litter or in dark, damp crevices, or under stones. As the weather gets cooler, they move into your house looking for somewhere warm to help them survive the winter months. They prefer places where they can live undisturbed in moist conditions. To prevent their stay becoming permanent you need to change these favorable conditions and proof your home against a future roly-poly visit.

If you find them in the garden, please don’t kill them. Woodlice are harmless to humans and they are a food source for other animals. The bodies of pill-bugs provide a good source of calcium for some spiders, birds and frogs.

Woodlouse in the Garden

Woodlice Look Like Tiny Armadillos

The scientific or Latin name for a woodlouse is Armadillidium vulgare. They may be small, but they have an important role to play in helping decompose the cellulose in wood and paper. They also help break down animal feces and turn it into useful manure. Their natural habitat is in leaf litter in woodland and shrub areas.

Some local names for woodlice are roly-polies and pill-bugs. These names relate to their ability to form little balls with their armor plating on the outside, protecting their soft innards. Their tough outer shell or exoskeleton has to be shed regularly to enable a woodlouse to grow and mature. The shedding is done in two stages. First it sloughs the rear half of its armor plating and then two or three days later it loses the front half of its exoskeleton. The shedding is done in stages in order to minimize the vulnerability of the creature during the short period it is without its armor.

Woodlice Provide Early Warning of Damp Problems

Although woodlice do not harm human beings themselves, a heavy infestation inside a building may result in damage to wood, paper and plaster. The picture below shows the kind of damage that can be the result.

Roly-polies can be helpful in that they alert you to the fact that there is a source of damp in your home. Woodlice need moisture to survive as they breathe through a kind of gills (like a fish) called a pseudo- trachea. Without any water source they would not have been able to successfully set up home in your building. It is essential to identify and remedy any source of dampness to successfully tackle a woodlice infestation. This should be done in tandem with other measures such as proofing your building to stop re-colonization by more roly-polies.

Where Do Woodlice Live?

There are more than 3,600 species of woodlice and they are found living all over the world.They are an ancient crustacean species that evolved from a water-based environment to being able to live on land. Different species have adapted to take advantage of a wide variety of habitats and this makes them difficult to eradicate. Their tough outer shell-like skin provides an effective barrier against most variations in temperature and humidity. However, the one thing they are unable to cope with is complete dryness.

The survival and reproduction of pill-bugs has been helped by their ability to eat a wide and varied diet. They are omnivores. Woodlice have a digestive system that allows them to eat things that would poison other species. They thrive on eating animal feces, molds, decomposing food scraps and cellulose.

Fertile Females

Woodlice have the ability to increase in number quickly. In some species the female lays eggs three times a year with approximately fifty eggs laid each time. The common Garden Woodlouse species, found inside UK homes, lays one clutch of 150 eggs a year. The female woodlouse retains the eggs in a pouch on her body until they hatch. The hatchlings start life measuring approximately 2 millimeters.

The Choice Chamber Experiment

Various experiments have been carried out to determine the type of habitat most favored by woodlice. A simple experiment known as the «choice chamber” can be used to demonstrate the creature’s preferred environment. A container with either two or four compartments is used. I bought a choice chamber kit to carry out the experiment for myself. Each chamber is differentiated so that woodlice can make a choice between moist or dry, dark or light environments.

The video shows how this experiment demonstrates that woodlice prefer dark and damp conditions.

Woodlice Choice Chamber

Eradication and Proofing

Professional pest control operatives may use chemicals to poison and kill woodlice. However, without removing their habitat and food source, a new generation of woodlice will return to take over the newly vacant territory. In order to achieve permanent eradication it is necessary to maintain dry environmental conditions. In the short term this can be achieved through the use of salt barriers. A half inch border of salt poured across external doorways will cause them to dehydrate as they crawl across it.

In the longer term it is necessary to identify and replace areas of rotten timber. Cellulose in wood is one of their preferred food sources. You will need to fill any cracks or holes around windows and skirting boards with decorator’s caulk to prevent woodlice from finding new hiding places.

You may still want to control pill bugs. If so, try out the organic method shown in the video below. It uses cut halves of potatoes or melons to attract the woodlice. it is a non-toxic method of pest control and so is safe to use if you have pets or children.

Organic Pill Bug Control Using a Potato Trap

What Eats Woodlice?

There are many natural predators of woodlice. These include shrews, toads, centipedes, some spiders, ground beetles and parasitic flies. A healthy garden will have a balance of predators and prey, so there is no need to kill any woodlice outdoors yourself. Woodlice help to recycle dead plant and vegetable matter.

Woodlice occasionally come into houses from gardens, but they are unable to survive for long indoors unless they find a damp place to shelter. So remove any damp or rotting wood in your home and you are unlikely to find woodlice there. Those you do encounter can be retuned unharmed to their natural environment, your back-yard.

Would Salt Deter Slaters?

Slaters is another local name (Australian) for woodlice and pill-bugs. Using salt to deter roly-polys is an old folk remedy for infestations. The idea is that as woodlice crawl across a line of salt, their bodies become dehydrated and they die. I have tried this remedy, but not found it very effective. The advantage of salt is that it is a safer alternative to using poisonous chemicals if you have pets or children in your household.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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Comments

Liam C

5 months ago from Bakersfield

We used to call these potato bugs and I never knew they were so useful. thanks for an informative article.

Paula

Amazing what you can find out.. I moved to a bungalow with plenty of grounds. I agree with the damp as I’ve got outta house which is damp and I have lots of little visitors lol. I really don’t mind them but with my grandson starting to crawl I don’t think its a good thing with woodlice. I use salt aswell and can Hoover up three times a day when they dry out. I don’t want to do this but have to think of my grandson first.

IzzyM

4 years ago from UK

Very interesting article that I found through Google search.

I’ve just moved into an Arts & Crafts house but it lay empty for six months before I moved, while getting some alterations done.

The place is hoaching with woodlice, yet there is no damp, nor rotting timbers according to the survey. They are dying off through lack of water, thankfully. I’m going to do a thorough search tomorrow for cracks or crevices they could be entering by.

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1.1 Logging

In most cases, this is untrue due to the nature of rainforests and of logging practices.

Large areas of rainforest are destroyed in order to remove only a few logs. The heavy machinery used to penetrate the forests and build roads causes extensive damage. Trees are felled and soil is compacted by heavy machinery, decreasing the forest’s chance for regeneration.

The felling of one ‘selected’ tree, tears down with it climbers, vines, epiphytes and lianas. A large hole is left in the canopy and complete regeneration takes hundreds of years.

Removing a felled tree from the forest causes even further destruction, especially when it is carried out carelessly. It is believed that in many South East Asian countries ‘between 45-74% of trees remaining after logging have been substantially damaged or destroyed’ (WWF).

The tracks made by heavy machinery and the clearings left behind by loggers are sites of extreme soil disturbance which begin to erode in heavy rain. This causes siltation of the forests, rivers and streams. The lives and life support systems of indigenous people are disrupted as is the habitat of hundreds of birds and animals.

Little if any industrial logging of tropical forests is sustainable. The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), the body established to regulate the international trade in tropical timber, found in 1988 that the amount of sustainable logging was «on a world scale, negligible».

«Logging roads are used by landless farmers to gain access to rainforest areas. For this reason, commercial logging is considered by many to be the biggest single agent of tropical deforestation»

Apart from its direct impact, logging plays a major role in deforestation through the building of roads which are subsequently used by landless farmers to gain access to rainforest areas. These displaced people then clear the forest by slashing and burning to grow enough food to keep them and their families alive, a practice which is called subsistence farming. This problem is so widespread that Robert Repetto of the World Resources Institute ranks commercial logging as the biggest agent of tropical deforestation. This view was supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature’s 1996 study, Bad Harvest?, which surveyed logging in the world’s tropical forests.

Most of the rainforest timber on the international market is exported to rich countries. There, it is sold for hundreds of times the price that is paid to the indigenous people whose forests have been plundered. The timber is used in the construction of doors, window frames, crates, coffins, furniture, plywood sheets, chopsticks, household utensils and other items.

Solutions: For all purposes for which tropical timber is used, other woods or materials could be substituted.

We can stop using tropical timber and urge others to do the same. As long as there is a market for tropical timbers, trees will continue to be cut down. Labelling schemes, aimed at helping consumers to chose environmental friendly timbers, are currently being discussed in many countries.

Note: The Rainforest Information Centre provides information to consumers wishing to avoid tropical and other environmentally damaging timbers. Look at the Good Wood Guide on our website, http://rainforestinfo.org.au.

1.2 Agriculture — Shifted Cultivators

‘Shifted cultivators’ is the term used for people who have moved into rainforest areas and established small-scale farming operations. These are the landless peasants who have followed roads into already damaged rainforest areas. The additional damage they are causing is extensive. Shifted cultivators are currently being blamed for 60% of tropical forest loss (Colchester & Lohmann).

The reason these people are referred to as ‘shifted’ cultivators is that most of them people have been forced off their own land. For example, in Guatemala, rainforest land was cleared for coffee and sugar plantations. The indigenous people had their land stolen by government and corporations. They became ‘shifted cultivators’, moving into rainforest areas of which they had no previous knowledge in order to sustain themselves and their families (Colchester & Lohmann).

Large-scale agriculture, logging, hydroelectric dams, mining, and industrial development are all responsible for the dispossession of poor farmers.

«One of the primary forces pushing landless migrants into the forests is the inequitable distribution of agricultural land» (WRI 1992, Colchester & Lohmann). In Brazil, approximately 42% of cultivated land is owned by a mere 1% of the population. Landless peasants make up half of Brazil’s population (WRM).

Once displaced, the ‘shifted cultivators’ move into forest areas, often with the encouragement of their government. In Brazil, a slogan was developed to help persuade the people to move into the forests. It read «Land without men for men without land» (WRM).

After a time, these farmers encounter the same problems as the cash crop growers. The soil does not remain fertile for long. They are forced to move on, to shift again, going further into the rainforest and destroying more and more of it.

It is evident that the shifted cultivators «have become the agents for destruction but not the cause» (Westoby 1987: Colchester). Shifted cultivators do not move into pristine areas of undisturbed rainforests. They follow roads made principally for logging operations. «Shifted cultivators are often used by the timber industry as scapegoats» (Orams and McQuire). Yet logging roads lead to an estimated 90% of the destruction caused by the slash-and-burn farmers (Martin 1991: Colchester).

Solutions: Land reform is essential if this problem is to be addressed. However, according to Colchester and Lohmann, «an enduring shift of power in favour of the peasants» is also needed for such reforms to endure (Colchester &Lohmann).


1.3 Agriculture — Cash Crops and Cattle Ranching

Undisturbed and logged rainforest areas are being totally cleared to provide land for food crops, tree plantations or for grazing cattle (Colchester & Lohmann). Much of this produce is exported to rich industrialised countries and in many cases, crops are grown for export while the local populace goes hungry.

Due to the delicate nature of rainforest soil and the destructive nature of present day agricultural practices, the productivity of cash crops grown on rainforest soils declines rapidly after a few years.

Monoculture plantations — those that produce only one species of tree or one type of food — on rainforest soil are examples of non-sustainable agriculture.

They are referred to as cash crops because the main reason for their planting is to make money quickly, with little concern about the environmental damage that they are causing.

Modern machinery, fertilisers and pesticides are used to maximise profits. The land is farmed intensively. In many cases, cattle damage the land to such an extent that it is of no use to cattle ranchers any more, and they move on, destroying more and more rainforest. Not only have the forests been destroyed but the land is exploited, stripped of nutrients and left barren, sustaining no-one.

Solutions:»Reducing the demand for Southern-produced agribusiness crops and alleviating the pressure from externally-financed development projects and assistance is the essential first step» (Colchester and Lohmann).

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that ‘1.5 billion of the 2 billion people worldwide who rely on fuelwood for cooking and heating are overcutting forests’. This problem is worst in drier regions of the tropics. Solutions will probably involve a return to local peoples’ control of the forests they depend on.

In India and South America, hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests have been destroyed by the building of hydro-electric dams. It was the dominant view that new dams had to be built or otherwise these countries would suffer an energy crisis. However, a recent study by the World Bank in Brazil has shown that ‘sufficient generating capacity already exists to satisfy the expected rise in demand for power over the medium term, provided that the energy is used more efficiently’ (WRM).

The construction of dams not only destroys the forest but often uproots tens of thousands of people, destroying both their land and their culture. The rates of waterborne diseases increase rapidly. Downstream ecosystems are damaged by dams which trap silt, holding back valuable nutrients. Reduced silt leads to coastal erosion. The sheer weight of water in dams has in Chile, Zimbabwe, and Greece led to earthquakes. The irrigation and industrial projects powered by dams lead to further environmental damage. Irrigation leads to salination of soils and industry leads to pollution.

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Solutions: Aid organisations like the World Bank have traditionally favoured spectacular large-scale irrigation and hydro-electric projects. In all cases when such projects are proposed, there has been massive opposition from local people. Reform of the World Bank and other such organisations, and support for campaigns against large-scale dams is needed.

1.6 Mining and Industry

Mining and industrial development lead to direct forest loss due to the clearing of land to establish projects. Indigenous people are displaced. Roads are constructed through previously inaccessible land, opening up the rainforest. Severe water, air and land pollution occurs from mining and industry.

Solutions: Local campaigns against mining and industrial development, and the campaigns to reform the large aid agencies which fund such schemes, should be supported.


1.7 Colonisation Schemes

Governments and international aid agencies for a time believed that by encouraging colonisation and trans-migration schemes into rainforest areas, they could alleviate some of the poverty felt by the people of the financially poorer countries. It has since become increasingly obvious that such schemes have failed, hurting the indigenous people and the environment (Colchester & Lohmann).

These schemes involve the relocation of millions of people into sparsely populated and forested areas. In Indonesia, the Transmigrasi Program, begun in 1974, is believed to be ‘the greatest cause of forest loss in Indonesia’, directly causing an average annual loss of 200,000 hectares (Colchester & Lohmann).

The resettled people suffered the same problems as ‘shifted cultivators’. The soil is not fertile enough to be able to sustain them for very long.

Even after such projects have officially ended, the flow of ‘shifted cultivators’ continues as the area remains opened up. «The World Bank estimates that for every colonist resettled under the official transmigration project, two or more unofficially move into the forest due to the drawing effect of the program» (Colchester & Lohmann).

The creation of national parks has undoubtedly helped to protect rainforests. Yet, as national parks are open to the public, tourism is damaging some of these areas.

Often, national parks are advertised to tourists before adequate management plans have been developed and implemented. Inadequate funding is allocated for preservation of forests by government departments. Governments see tourism as an easy way to make money, and therefore tourism is encouraged whilst strict management strategies are given far less government support.

Ecotourism, or environmentally friendly tourism, should educate the tourists to be environmentally aware. It should also be of low impact to its environment. Unfortunately, many companies and resorts who advertise themselves as eco-tourist establishments are in fact exploiting the environment for profit.

In Cape Tribulation, Australia, for example, the rainforest is being threatened by excessive tourism. Clearing for roads and pollution of waterways are two of the major problems in this area. The Wet Tropics Management Authority which oversees the surrounding World Heritage Area is promoting tourism to the area before any management plans have been formulated, before any effective waste management strategy has been devised and before any ecofriendly power alternatives have been fully explored.

Solutions: The rights of indigenous forest dwellers and others who depend on intact forests must be upheld. In instances where there are campaigns opposing specific tourist developments, they should be supported. Genuine ecotourism should be preferred to other tourist enterprises.


2. Underlying Causes

More Than Just Poverty and Overpopulation

Poverty and overpopulation are believed to be the main causes of forest loss, according to the international agencies such as the FAO and intergovernmental bodies. They believe they can solve the problem by encouraging development and trying to reduce population growth. However, the World Rainforest Movement and many other non-governmental organisations hold unrestrained development and the excessive consumption habits of rich industrialised countries directly responsible for most forest loss.


2.1 Development and Overconsumption: the Basic Causes

The World Rainforest Movement’s Emergency Call to Action for the Forests and Their Peoples asserts that «deforestation is the inevitable result of the current social and economic policies being carried out in the name development». It is the push for development which gives rise to commercial logging, cash crops, cattle ranching, large dams, colonisation schemes, the dispossession of peasants and indigenous people and the promotion of tourism.

Harrison Ngau, an indigenous tribesman from Sarawak, Malaysia and winner of the Goldman Environment Award in 1990, has this to say about why tropical forests are being destroyed:

The roots of the problem of deforestation and waste of resources are located in the industrialised countries, where most of our resources, such as tropical timber end up. The rich nations with one quarter of the world’s population consume four fifth of the world’s resources. It is the throw away culture of the industrialised countries, now advertised in and forced on to the Third World countries that is leading to the throwing away of the world. Such so-called progress leads to destruction and despair![World Rainforest Movement]

2.2 Colonialism

Tropical rainforests are found mainly in the Third World countries, Australia and Hawaii being the only exceptions. All of these countries have indigenous populations who had their own system of land management and/or ownership in place for thousand of years before the intervention of colonists from rich industrialised nations. The colonial powers (Britain, France, Spain and Portugal), whilst exploiting the resources of many of these countries, attempted to destroy indigenous peoples’ rights to remain on their land. Colonialism turned previously self-sufficient economies into zones of agriculture export production (Colchester and Lohmann). This process continues today and the situation is worsening.


2.3 Exploitation by Industrialised Countries

Wealthy countries have been consuming so much of their own resources that they are no longer sustaining their growing populations and increasingly, they are turning to the resources of the financially poorer countries. «Twenty per cent of the world’s population is using 80 % of the world’s resources» (Orams & McQuire).

Currently, although many indigenous people are claiming their culture and rights, they face stubborn opposition, as the governments in their own countries have often ‘adopted the same growth-syndrome as their Western neighbours, with the emphasis on maximising exports, revenues and exploiting resources for short-term gain. Corruption in government, the military and economic powers is well known’ (Orams & McQuire).

The problem is made worse by the low price for most Third World exports on the international market. The United States has been accused of manipulating prices for agricultural commodities for its own benefit at the expense of tropical countries (WRR).


2.4 The Debt Burden

The governments of the financially poorer countries feel they need to make money in order to repay their huge international debts. In the 1970’s and 80’s, they borrowed vast sums of money from development agencies in industrialised countries in order to improve their own economies. Most are still battling to make repayments due to escalating interest rates (Orams & McQuire).

Since 1987, the flow of debt repayments from Third World countries to rich countries has exceeded the flow of aid money going to Third World countries (RIC). Poor countries feel compelled to exploit their natural resources, including their forests, partly to earn foreign exchange for servicing their debts. Non-government organisations in Third World countries have for many years been pointing out that there is no chance of stopping impoverishment and destruction of nature without a solution to the debt crisis.

For example, in some countries in South-East Asia, the construction of roads for logging operations was funded by Japanese aid. Later, the forests were exploited by Japanese timber companies. The timber companies made the profits and the South-East Asian countries were left owing Japan money for the construction of the roads (Orams & Maquire).


2.5 The Role of Poverty and Overpopulation

Poverty, while undeniably responsible for much of the damage to rainforests, has to a large extent been brought about by the greed of the rich industrialised nations and the Third World elites who seek to emulate them. Development, which is often seen as the solution to world poverty, seldom helps those whose need is greatest. It is often the cause rather than the cure for poverty.

The claim that overpopulation is the cause of deforestation is used by many governments and aid agencies as an excuse for inaction. In tropical countries, pressure from human settlement comes about more from inequitable land distribution that from population pressure. In general, most of the land is owned by a small but powerful elite which displaces poor farmers into rainforest areas. So long as these elites maintain their grip on power, lasting land reform will be difficult to achieve.

Overpopulation is not a problem exclusive to Third World countries. An individual in an industrialised country is likely to consume in the order of sixty times as much of the world’s resources as a person in a poor country. The growing populations in rich industrialised nations are therefore responsible for much of the exploitation of the earth, and there is a clear link between the overconsumption in rich countries and deforestation in the tropics.

Colchester and Lohmann (Ed), The struggle for Land and the Fate of the Forest, 1993, Zed Books, London.

World Rainforest Movement, Rainforest Destruction: Causes, Effects and False Solutions, 1990, World Rainforest Movement, Penang.

Myers, N., The Primary Source: Tropical Forests and Our Future (updated for the Nineties), 1992, Norton, New York.

Rainforest Information Centre, The Australian Rainforests of West Africa: Ecology, Threats, Conservation, 1991, Birkhauser, Basle.

Collins, Sayer & Whitmore (Ed), The Conversation Atlas of Tropical Forests: Asia, 1992, Macmillan, London.

www.rainforestinfo.org.au

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