Discerning the Differences between Harvesting and Deforestation


Humans and millions of living creatures would not last on Earth if it weren’t for trees. Trees are indeed vital for many aspects in our lives. However, when we think about cutting trees for our needs, many of us tend to associate it with unaware logging activities which leads to adverse environmental effects. That is not always true. So, to understand this case better, there are two distinct concepts that you need to know: harvesting and deforestation.

  • The Concept of Harvesting and Deforestation
  • What is Harvesting?

    In the context of timber and forestry, the International Labour Organization (ILO) explains that harvesting is the preparation of logs in a forest or tree plantation according to the requirements of a user and delivery of logs to a consumer. These include the sequence of operations by applying several methods.

  • What is Deforestation?

    Conserve Energy Future defines deforestation as the conversion of forested areas to non-forest land for use such as arable land, pasture, urban use, logged area, or wasteland. It can also be seen as the removal of forests leading to several imbalances ecologically and environmentally. Moreover, it results in declines in habitat and biodiversity.

The Actual Differences between Harvesting and Deforestation
Based on a research published in Nature.com, 15 billion trees are cut down each year.  At the same time, 13 million hectares of forest, as demonstrated by The World Counts, have been cleared for other uses or by natural disasters. Looking at these statistics, most will probably assume that cutting down trees in general is dangerous to our Mother Earth. However, logging is actually a must, especially when there is a sustainable way of doing it, which is by harvesting.

Harvesting is the best way to both prevent the tree disease and to protect the healthy trees that remain. The idea of harvesting then differs from deforestation when it comes to the wood-cutting process. While deforestation occurs by permanently removing trees, harvesting is done while minimizing environmental damage, in this case through sustainable forestry. The process involves replanting the trees, maintaining the forests, and mitigating the damages.

According to The Guardian, timber harvesting in Indonesia’s logging concessions is indeed selective, only cutting down commercially valuable trees. This is in line with Kayu Lapis Indonesia (KLI), who continues to implement a harvesting program instead of deforestation in their wood production. Through sustainable forestry, every harvested tree is selected properly by KLI to reach the bigger goal, which is to improve the forest and the value of the trees. Therefore, it can be concluded that harvesting is the most realistic way to maintain the forests while opening space for the new species.

Keywords: Harvesting and Deforestation
Source: Nature.com; ILO Encyclopaedia; The World Counts; Conserve Energy Future; The Guardian