Optimism about sustaining conservation values in selectively logged tropical forests

Published on
May 29, 2012

Most tropical forests outside protected areas have been or will be selectively logged so it is essential to maximize the conservation values of partially harvested areas.
Together with a team of international researchers Marielos Peña Claros and Pieter Zuidema from the Forest Ecology and Forest Mangement Group examined the extent to which these forests sustain timber production, retain species, and conserve carbon stocks.

In Conservation Letters (2012:1-8) they describe some improvements in tropical forestry and how their implementation can be promoted.

A simple meta-analysis based on >100 publications revealed substantial variability but that: timber yields decline by about 46% after the first harvest but are subsequently sustained at that level; 76% of carbon is retained in once-logged forests; and, 85–100% of species of mammals, birds, invertebrates,and plants remain after logging. Timber stocks will not regain primary-forest levels within current harvest cycles, but yields increase if collateral damage is reduced and silvicultural treatments are applied.
Given that selectively logged forests retain substantial biodiversity, carbon, and timber stocks, this “middle way” between deforestation and total protection deserves more attention from researchers, conservation organizations, and policy-makers. Improvements in forestmanagement are now likely if synergies are enhanced among initiatives to retain forest carbon stocks (REDD+), assure the legality of forest products, certify responsible management, and devolve control over forests to empowered local communities.


The publication has received a lot of attention:
  • (May 10, 2012)
  •     Resource (internal Journal WUR; May 24, 2012)
  •     interview broadcasted on Radio Wetenschap24 (Hoe?Zo!, May 31,2012)