Temporal Decay in Timber Species Composition and Value in Amazonian Logging Concessions.
ABSTRACT: Throughout human history, slow-renewal biological resource populations have been predictably overexploited, often to the point of economic extinction. We assess whether and how this has occurred with timber resources in the Brazilian Amazon. The asynchronous advance of industrial-scale logging frontiers has left regional-scale forest landscapes with varying histories of logging. Initial harvests in unlogged forests can be highly selective, targeting slow-growing, high-grade, shade-tolerant hardwood species, while later harvests tend to focus on fast-growing, light-wooded, long-lived pioneer trees. Brazil accounts for 85% of all native neotropical forest roundlog production, and the State of Pará for almost half of all timber production in Brazilian Amazonia, the largest old-growth tropical timber reserve controlled by any country. Yet the degree to which timber harvests beyond the first-cut can be financially profitable or demographically sustainable remains poorly understood. Here, we use data on legally planned logging of ~17.3 million cubic meters of timber across 314 species extracted from 824 authorized harvest areas in private and community-owned forests, 446 of which reported volumetric composition data by timber species. We document patterns of timber extraction by volume, species composition, and monetary value along aging eastern Amazonian logging frontiers, which are then explained on the basis of historical and environmental variables. Generalized linear models indicate that relatively recent logging operations farthest from heavy-traffic roads are the most selective, concentrating gross revenues on few high-value species. We find no evidence that the post-logging timber species composition and total value of forest stands recovers beyond the first-cut, suggesting that the commercially most valuable timber species become predictably rare or economically extinct in old logging frontiers. In avoiding even more destructive land-use patterns, managing yields of selectively-logged forests is crucial for the long-term integrity of forest biodiversity and financial viability of local industries. The logging history of eastern Amazonian old-growth forests likely mirrors unsustainable patterns of timber depletion over time in Brazil and other tropical countries.
Project description:At the Amazon estuary, the oldest logging frontier in the Amazon, no studies have comprehensively explored the potential long-term population and yield consequences of multiple timber harvests over time. Matrix population modeling is one way to simulate long-term impacts of tree harvests, but this approach has often ignored common impacts of tree harvests including incidental damage, changes in post-harvest demography, shifts in the distribution of merchantable trees, and shifts in stand composition. We designed a matrix-based forest management model that incorporates these harvest-related impacts so resulting simulations reflect forest stand dynamics under repeated timber harvests as well as the realities of local smallholder timber management systems. Using a wide range of values for management criteria (e.g., length of cutting cycle, minimum cut diameter), we projected the long-term population dynamics and yields of hundreds of timber management regimes in the Amazon estuary, where small-scale, unmechanized logging is an important economic activity. These results were then compared to find optimal stand-level and species-specific sustainable timber management (STM) regimes using a set of timber yield and population growth indicators. Prospects for STM in Amazonian tidal floodplain forests are better than for many other tropical forests. However, generally high stock recovery rates between harvests are due to the comparatively high projected mean annualized yields from fast-growing species that effectively counterbalance the projected yield declines from other species. For Amazonian tidal floodplain forests, national management guidelines provide neither the highest yields nor the highest sustained population growth for species under management. Our research shows that management guidelines specific to a region's ecological settings can be further refined to consider differences in species demographic responses to repeated harvests. In principle, such fine-tuned management guidelines could make management more attractive, thus bridging the currently prevalent gap between tropical timber management practice and regulation.
Project description:The long-term viability of a forest industry in the Amazon region of Brazil depends on the maintenance of adequate timber volume and growth in healthy forests. Using extensive high-resolution satellite analyses, we studied the forest damage caused by recent logging operations and the likelihood that logged forests would be cleared within 4 years after timber harvest. Across 2,030,637 km2 of the Brazilian Amazon from 1999 to 2004, at least 76% of all harvest practices resulted in high levels of canopy damage sufficient to leave forests susceptible to drought and fire. We found that 16+/-1% of selectively logged areas were deforested within 1 year of logging, with a subsequent annual deforestation rate of 5.4% for 4 years after timber harvests. Nearly all logging occurred within 25 km of main roads, and within that area, the probability of deforestation for a logged forest was up to four times greater than for unlogged forests. In combination, our results show that logging in the Brazilian Amazon is dominated by highly damaging operations, often followed rapidly by deforestation decades before forests can recover sufficiently to produce timber for a second harvest. Under the management regimes in effect at the time of our study in the Brazilian Amazon, selective logging would not be sustained.
Project description:Declining deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon are touted as a conservation success, but illegal logging is a problem of similar scale. Recent regulatory efforts have improved detection of some forms of illegal logging but are vulnerable to more subtle methods that mask the origin of illegal timber. We analyzed discrepancies between estimated timber volumes of the national forest inventory of Brazil and volumes of logging permits as an indicator of potential fraud in the timber industry in the eastern Amazon. We found a strong overestimation bias of high-value timber species volumes in logging permits. Field assessments confirmed fraud for the most valuable species and complementary strategies to generate a "surplus" of licensed timber that can be used to legalize the timber coming from illegal logging. We advocate for changes to the logging control system to prevent overexploitation of Amazonian timber species and the widespread forest degradation associated with illegal logging.
Project description:The conservation of tropical forests is recognized as one of the most important challenges for forestry, ecology and politics. Besides strict protection, the sustainable management of natural forests should be enhanced as a key part of the foundation for the maintenance of tropical rain forest ecosystems. Due to methodological reasons it has been complicated to attain reliable growth data to plan sustainable felling cycles and rotation periods. Tree ring analyses enable the estimation of growth rates over the entire life span of trees and their age as well as giving hints from forest dynamics in previous centuries. For tree ring analysis, stem disk samples were taken from three important commercial tree species (Cariniana micrantha, Caryocar villosum and Manilkara huberi) in the upland (terra firme) forests of the Precious Woods Amazon logging company near Itacoatiara, Brazil. Based on radiocarbon estimates of individual growth zones, the annual nature of tree rings was proven for the three species. Tree rings were measured and the results used together with height estimates to model diameter, height and volume growth. The age of the eldest tree, a C. micrantha, was 585 yrs with 165 cm in diameter. The species' diameter increments range from 0.20±0.12 cm yr-1 to 0.29±0.08 cm yr-1. At first sight, this is considerably lower than increments reported from other Amazonian or African timber species. Considering the respective wood density there is no significant difference in growth performance of dominant timber species across continents. The interpretation of lifetime tree ring curves indicate differences in shadow tolerance among species, the persistence of individuals in the understory for up to 150 years and natural stand dynamics without major disturbances. Management criteria should be adapted for the measured growth rates as they differed considerably from the Brazilian standards fixed by laws (felling cycle of 25-35 years and a common minimum logging diameter of 50 cm). Felling cycles should be increased to 32-51 years and minimum logging diameters to 63-123 cm depending on the species.
Project description:The demand for timber products is facilitating the degradation and opening up of large areas of intact habitats rich in biodiversity. Logging creates an extensive network of access roads within the forest, yet these are commonly ignored or excluded when assessing impacts of logging on forest biodiversity. Here we determine the impact of these roads on the overall condition of selectively logged forests in Borneo, Southeast Asia. Focusing on dung beetles along > 40 km logging roads we determine: (i) the magnitude and extent of edge effects alongside logging roads; (ii) whether vegetation characteristics can explain patterns in dung beetle communities, and; (iii) how the inclusion of road edge forest impacts dung beetle assemblages within the overall logged landscape. We found that while vegetation structure was significantly affected up to 34 m from the road edge, impacts on dung beetle communities penetrated much further and were discernible up to 170 m into the forest interior. We found larger species and particularly tunnelling species responded more than other functional groups which were also influenced by micro-habitat variation. We provide important new insights into the long-term ecological impacts of tropical logging. We also support calls for improved logging road design both during and after timber extraction to conserve more effectively biodiversity in production forests, for instance, by considering the minimum volume of timber, per unit length of logging road needed to justify road construction. In particular, we suggest that governments and certification bodies need to highlight more clearly the biodiversity and environmental impacts of logging roads.
Project description:Forests managed for timber have an important role to play in conserving global biodiversity. We evaluated the most common timber production systems worldwide in terms of their impact on local species richness by conducting a categorical meta-analysis. We reviewed 287 published studies containing 1008 comparisons of species richness in managed and unmanaged forests and derived management, taxon, and continent specific effect sizes. We show that in terms of local species richness loss, forest management types can be ranked, from best to worse, as follows: selection and retention systems, reduced impact logging, conventional selective logging, clear-cutting, agroforestry, timber plantations, fuelwood plantations. Next, we calculated the economic profitability in terms of the net present value of timber harvesting from 10 hypothetical wood-producing Forest Management Units (FMU) from around the globe. The ranking of management types is altered when the species loss per unit profit generated from the FMU is considered. This is due to differences in yield, timber species prices, rotation cycle length and production costs. We thus conclude that it would be erroneous to dismiss or prioritize timber production regimes, based solely on their ranking of alpha diversity impacts.
Project description:The increased global demand for tropical timber has driven vast expanses of tropical forests to be selectively logged worldwide. While logging impacts on wildlife are predicted to change species distribution and abundance, the underlying physiological responses are poorly understood. Although there is a growing consensus that selective logging impacts on natural populations start with individual stress-induced sublethal responses, this literature is dominated by investigations conducted with vertebrates from temperate zones. Moreover, the sublethal effects of human-induced forest disturbance on tropical invertebrates have never been examined. To help address this knowledge gap, we examined the body fat content and relative abundance of three dung beetle species (Coleoptera: Scarabaeinae) with minimum abundance of 40 individuals within each examined treatment level. These were sampled across 34 plots in a before-after control-impact design (BACI) in a timber concession area of the Brazilian Amazon. For the first time, we present evidence of logging-induced physiological stress responses in tropical invertebrates. Selective logging increased the individual levels of fat storage and reduced the relative abundance of two dung beetle species. Given this qualitative similarity, we support the measurement of body fat content as reliable biomarker to assess stress-induced sublethal effects on dung beetles. Understanding how environmental modification impacts the wildlife has never been more important. Our novel approach provides new insights into the mechanisms through which forest disturbances impose population-level impacts on tropical invertebrates.
Project description:Tropical forests represent vast carbon stocks and continue to be key carbon sinks and buffer climate changes. The international policy constructed several mechanisms aiming at conservation and sustainable use of these forests. Illegal logging is an important threat of forests, especially in the tropics. Several laws and regulations have been set up to combat illegal timber trade. Despite significant enforcement efforts of these regulations, illegal logging continues to be a serious problem and impacts for the functioning of the forest ecosystem and global biodiversity in the tropics. Microscopic analysis of wood samples and the use of conventional plant DNA barcodes often do not allow to distinguish closely-related species. The use of novel molecular technologies could make an important contribution for the identification of tree species. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing technologies and bioinformatics tools to obtain the complete de-novo chloroplast genome of 62 commercial African timber species using the genome skimming method. Then, we performed a comparative genomic analysis that revealed new candidate genetic regions for the discrimination of closely-related species. We concluded that genome skimming is a promising method for the development of plant genetic markers to combat illegal logging activities supporting CITES, FLEGT and the EU Timber Regulation.
Project description:Forests play a key role in the carbon cycle as they store huge quantities of organic carbon, most of which is stored in soils, with a smaller part being held in vegetation. While the carbon storage capacity of forests is influenced by forestry, the long-term impacts of forest managers' decisions on soil organic carbon (SOC) remain unclear. Using a meta-analysis approach, we showed that conventional biomass harvests preserved the SOC of forests, unlike intensive harvests where logging residues were harvested to produce fuelwood. Conventional harvests caused a decrease in carbon storage in the forest floor, but when the whole soil profile was taken into account, we found that this loss in the forest floor was compensated by an accumulation of SOC in deeper soil layers. Conversely, we found that intensive harvests led to SOC losses in all layers of forest soils. We assessed the potential impact of intensive harvests on the carbon budget, focusing on managed European forests. Estimated carbon losses from forest soils suggested that intensive biomass harvests could constitute an important source of carbon transfer from forests to the atmosphere (142-497 Tg-C), partly neutralizing the role of a carbon sink played by forest soils.
Project description:Across the tropics, large-bodied mammals have been affected by selective logging in ways that vary with levels of timber extraction, collateral damage, species-specific traits and secondary effects of hunting, as facilitated by improved access through logging roads. In Peninsular Malaysia, 3.0 million hectares or 61 percent of its Permanent Reserved Forests is officially assigned for commercial selective logging. Understanding how wildlife adapts and uses logged forest is critical for its management and, for threatened species, their conservation. In this study, we quantify the population status of four tropical ungulate species in a large selectively logged forest reserve and an adjacent primary forest protected area. We then conduct finer scale analyses to identify the species-specific factors that determine their occurrence. A combined indirect sign-camera trapping approach with a large sampling effort (2,665 km and 27,780 trap nights surveyed) covering a wide area (560 km2) generated species-specific detection probabilities and site occupancies. Populations of wild boar were widespread across both logged and primary forests, whereas sambar and muntjac occupancy was lower in logged forest (48.4% and 19.2% respectively), with gaur showing no significant difference. Subsequent modelling revealed the importance of conserving lower elevation habitat in both habitat types, particularly <1,000 m asl, for which occupancies of sambar, muntjac and gaur were typically higher. This finding is important because 75 percent (~13,400 km2) of Peninsular Malaysia's Main Range Forest (Banjaran Titiwangsa) is under 1,000 m asl and therefore at risk of being converted to industrial timber plantations, which calls for renewed thinking around forest management planning.