“And still they are being chopped down.”

The sentence comes 10 paragraphs in. In to an extraordinary “Seeing the wood” special report in what is increasingly appreciated not only as perhaps the best economics and policy weekly, but one of a few in a shrinking population of high-quality weeklies.

Running 14 pages in the September 25 issue of The Economist, South Asia correspondent James Astill’s report outlines the value of forests in providing livelihoods but also in controlling runoff and landslides and in managing regional hydrology and rainfall.

Forests’ sequestrations of carbon and their role in avoiding further warming are “the latest reason — and it is a big one — why destroying forests is a bad idea,” he wrote.

Astill writes in the piece of the problems and potentials of management of rainforests in Brazil and points to more supportive public opinion as leading to more stringent Brazilian controls. He points to some other areas of what he calls “progress, of a sort,” but he cautions too that reported progress “tends to be exaggerated, and even if it were real it would be insufficient because of two huge threats” — climate change and population growth and resulting increased demand for forest lands.

While holding out some hope through “REDD” (international efforts known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), Astill cautions in an Economist online audio that progress overall “will also require politicians to get serious about climate change. And that amounts to a revolution, which is a lot to hope for. But if anything can help bring it about, forests might.”

Care about climate change? Care about the global ecology? Care about societal well-being and more? Take time to read this one … It’s clearly a keeper.

Think journalisim is dying? No one’s told The Economist that. Let’s hope they don’t find out.