Heavily logged forests still valuable for tropical wildlife

Sep 17, 2013

According to principal investigators, Dr Matthew Struebig and Anthony Turner from the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology (DICE), these findings challenge a long-held belief that there is limited, if any, value of heavily logged forests for conservation.

The research, which monitored bats as an indicator for on Borneo, is the first of its kind to have wildlife in forests logged more than two times. The findings are particularly important because across the tropics forest that has been intensively harvested is frequently targeted for conversion to agriculture and is perceived to hold little value for timber, carbon or biodiversity.

Dr Struebig, Lecturer in Biological Conservation from DICE, explains: 'Recent studies have emphasised similar numbers of species living in unlogged and logged sites, but what surprised us was just how resilient some species were, even in sites almost unrecognisable as rainforest.'

Only by viewing forest sites along a gradient of logging disturbance, ranging from pristine to heavily degraded, were the team able to detect a gradual decline of some key .

The research confirmed the most vulnerable bats were those that tend to live in the cavities of old growth trees. By linking bat captures with vegetation measurements from nearby plots, the researchers were able to reveal how these animals declined as successive rounds of logging took their toll on forest structure, and crucially, the availability of tree cavities.

Although logging damage was clearly detrimental to some of the species studied, the findings also offer some hope for forest .

'Across the tropics there is increasing investment to restore the timber and wildlife in logged .' says Dr Struebig. 'For biodiversity, simple measures, such as setting artificial nest boxes for bats and birds may, if guided by research, help bring some species back to the numbers found in unlogged areas', he said.

The research, titled: 'Quantifying the Biodiversity Value of Repeatedly Logged Rainforests: Gradient and Comparative Approaches from Borneo' is published in Advances in Ecological Research, Volume 48, and includes the efforts of Malaysian, Indonesian and Canadian researchers in addition to scientists from the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK.

This study is the first field data to be published from the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems Project in Sabah, Malaysia – a new landscape experiment which combines the efforts of more than 100 researchers around the world to investigate the impacts of logging, deforestation and forest fragmentation in the natural world. With support from the Sime Darby oil palm company and the Malaysian government, the aim is to produce a set of science-based recommendations for more sustainable practices in the logging and agriculture industries in countries.

Explore further: Policy action urgently needed to protect Hawaii's dolphins

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-417199-2.00003-3

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Borneo's orangutans are coming down from the trees

Jul 29, 2013

Orangutans might be the king of the swingers, but primatologists in Borneo have found that the great apes spend a surprising amount of time walking on the ground. The research, published in the American Jo ...

Recommended for you

Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

13 hours ago

(AP)—U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary ...

Uphill battle to tackle Indonesian shark fishing

21 hours ago

Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists.

Virus causing mass Cape Cod duck die-offs identified

Dec 16, 2014

Since 1998, hundreds and sometimes thousands of dead eider ducks have been washing up every year on Cape Cod's beaches in late summer or early fall, but the reasons behind these cyclic die-offs have remained ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.