No Forestry? No Way

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A caged songbird overlooks a logging yard in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Justine E. Hausheer)

Thanks to Justine E. Hausheer for Modeling Logging’s Impacts on Biodiversity & Carbon in a Hypothetical Forest over at Cool Green Science:

Tropical forests are widely celebrated for their biodiversity and increasingly recognized for their carbon sequestration potential. But what’s less often acknowledged is halting logging entirely will make climate change worse, as wood is one of the most sustainable building materials.

So how can conservationists help nations meet the demand for wood products and protect forests, while minimizing both biodiversity loss and carbon emissions?

New research from Nature Conservancy scientists indicates that low-intensity selective logging can offer either the best or worst conservation outcomes while maintaining wood production, depending on both land tenure security and the use of certified reduced-impact logging methods.

A World Without Logging Doesn’t Exist

The “plight of the rainforest” is an archetypal conservation story: a beautiful place at risk, evil loggers out to destroy it, and the face of charismatic wildlife hangs in the balance. But like most stories, the reality is far more complex.

Clearing forests for conversion to wood fiber plantations is among the leading causes of tropical deforestation in Southeast Asia, and harvesting wood from forests (selective logging) is the leading cause of tropical forest degradation. Together, forest degradation and deforestation create greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the entire global transportation sector.

But a world without logging is a fantasy — one we don’t want to achieve. “Wood has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any building material,” says Bronson Griscom, director of forest carbon science at The Nature Conservancy and author on the research. “And yet logging still generates significant carbon emissions, and other environmental impacts, unless best practices are used.”

Tropical nations will continue using their forests, so the key is making sure they do so in the most efficient way possible, minimizing losses for biodiversity and carbon. But that’s easier said than done.

Two main options emerge: promote sustainable logging across all (or most of) the forest, or intensify wood production by logging at higher intensities or clearing small parts of the forest for plantations, sparing the rest of the forest from harvest. Funded by the Science for Nature & People Partnership (SNAPP), researchers from The Nature Conservancy and other institutions are trying to figure out which of these two options minimizes carbon emissions and best protects biodiversity…

Read the whole article here.

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