Study Calls Selective Logging the Most Realistic Conservation Strategy

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A new study says that well-managed selective logging may be the only realistic solution to conserving tropical forests in the face of a rapacious global demand for timber resources.

In an analysis of more than 100 studies, researchers at the University of Florida found that while even selective logging has a significant impact on biodiversity in tropical forests and carbon storage capacity, those impacts are “survivable and reversible to a degree” if the forests are given time to recover.

In fact, the researchers found that, on average, 85 to 100 percent of animal and plant species present before initial logging were still around after selective logging and that forests retained about 75 percent of their carbon after initial harvest.

By contrast, the researchers say, forest loss for the planting of rubber or palm oil plantations is permanent. “We’re not advocates for logging,” said Jack Putz, a professor of biology and lead author of the study published in Conservation Letters. “We’re just acknowledging that it is a reality — and that within that reality, there is a way forward.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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