Heavily logged forests still valuable for tropical wildlife

September 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: Carbon-offsetting and conservation can both be winners in rainforest

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

Related Stories

Borneo's orangutans are coming down from the trees

July 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 Journal of Primatology ...

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


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.