Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UF study finds logging of tropical forests needn’t devastate environment

11.05.2012
Harvesting tropical forests for timber may not be the arch-enemy of conservation that it was once assumed to be, according to a new study led by a University of Florida researcher.

Selective logging may be one of the few feasible options left for conserving tropical forests given the huge financial incentives pushing tropical landholders to convert primary forests into cash-generating agricultural plantations.

The report analyzed data from more than 100 studies of tropical forests on three continents that had been harvested for timber. Results suggest that while biodiversity and carbon retention take a hit from selective logging, the losses are survivable and reversible to a degree if the forest is given adequate time to recover. The study appears in the online version of the journal Conservation Letters.

That’s not the case when forests are converted to rubber or palm oil plantations, said the study’s lead author, Jack Putz, a UF professor of biology. Once a forest is gone, it is hard to get it back in any semblance of its former glory.

“We aren’t advocates for logging,” he said. “We’re just acknowledging that it is a reality — and that within that reality, there is a way forward.”

The study found that on average, 85 to 100 percent of the animal and plant species diversity present before an initial harvest remained after the forests were selectively logged. Forests also retained 76 percent of their carbon after an initial harvest.
The authors concede that the reports they analyzed could be overly optimistic portrayals of forest health. They nevertheless maintain that even moderately well-managed forests provide valuable benefits, and that badly managed forests can recover many of their most valuable attributes over time.

The continued existence of indigenous people culturally bound to these forests depends on forest survival, Putz said. Other people benefit from the eco-services that forests provide like soil erosion control, carbon sequestration and habitat for wildlife.

The problem, he said, is that there are powerful economic forces driving developing nations to convert their forests to cash crops and cattle ranches. A forest sustainably managed for timber and biodiversity might earn $2,000 per acre every 20 to 30 years. In contrast, a palm oil plantation can bring in the same amount in less than a year.
But there are ways to tip the balance sheet in favor of conservation, according to the study.

Programs that root out illegal logging operations protect forests by raising the price of legitimately harvested timber, he said. And that makes sustainable logging a more economically viable option for cash-strapped nations. The study also suggests that climate change mitigation programs designed to prevent logging could be modified to include support for environmentally sustainable timber management plans.

Many conservation biologists and ecologists in developed countries north of the equator seem reluctant to get behind these policies in a public way, he said. A chronic lack of oversight has made programs that allow for selective logging a risky ecological proposition in the past. That makes people involved in conservation hesitant to be seen as aligning themselves with timber harvest in any capacity.

But logging is going to happen anyway, Putz said. “Conservationists should be working to make sure it is carried out in the most environmentally and socially responsible ways possible,” he said.

Credits
WriterDonna Hesterman, donna.hesterman@ufl.edu, 352-846-2573SourceJack Putz, fep@ufl.edu, 352-392-1486

Jack Putz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>