Rare Good News on the Rainforest Logging Front

We find ourselves reporting bad news all too often. But now and again something positive happens, and it’s good to see recent research revealing how rainforests still have conservation value post-logging, even if they’ve been harvested more than once.

Dr Matthew Struebig and Anthony Turner, from the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology, and their team discovered the findings, which challenge the popular belief that such areas are of limited or no conservation value.

Far from batty

The scientists monitored bats to pin down environmental change on the island of Borneo, in a study that’s the first to examine the effects of logging a rainforest more than twice. And the results are crucial because for a long time, people believed intensively harvested rainforest has very little value for either timber, carbon or diversity, meaning it has traditionally been turned over to farming.

Rainforest resilience

Dr Struebig said, “What surprised us was just how resilient some species were, even in sites almost unrecognisable as rainforest.”  The researchers found there was only a gradual decline of some important bat species, and confirmed that the most vulnerable bats were those living in holes in old trees. Linking bat captures with the amount of vegetation from nearby plots, they also showed the pattern of decline as multiple rounds of logging took their toll.

Obviously logging damage is detrimental. But the research does offer hope for reforestation. As Dr

Struebig explained, “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.”

The research also takes into account the findings of Malaysian, Indonesian and Canadian scientists, and it’s the first field data to be published from the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems Project in Sabah, Malaysia. And it’s hoped the findings will guide science-based recommendations for more sustainable practices in the logging and agriculture industries.

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