Certified SFM preserves biodiversity

Latest research has shown that certified sustainable forest management, including low impact logging, supports habitat preservation and richness and diversity of wildlife.

The WWF study was conducted in the Peruvian Amazon and the results published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation journal, which is produced by educational services provider Wiley and the Zoological Society of London.

Researchers evaluated the impact of forest management certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme in Peru’s Tahuamanu Province in the Madre de Dios region.

They found that the sustainably managed area supported greater diversity in a range of species, including amphibians, insects and monkeys, compared to non-certified forest. The species variety was comparable with that in undisturbed forest.

The research team used acoustic technology analysis to gauge the diversity of wildlife in the study region, recording  hundreds of audio samples of birds, insects, amphibians and monkeys in three large industrial concessions. Two were FSC-certified and one non- certified. In total they set up 67 recording sites across the sustainably managed and non-certified logging sites.

They found not just a greater variety, but a greater quantity of animal sounds in the certified forest and both were comparable with what might be expected in un-exploited forest.

“Our findings reinforce conclusions of other studies that certified forests can maintain similar levels of fauna biodiversity to undisturbed primary forest in the Amazon region,” concluded the research team. They added that their work provided important pointers for future biodiversity analysis, with numbers and variety of insects and ‘anurans’ amphibians (toads and frogs) providing most reliable evidence of habitat structure variation.

“The Peruvian project provides further validation for the STTC’s view that uptake of certified sustainable forest management practice supports tropical forest and habitat maintenance,” said Nienke Sleurink of the STTC. “And one way to encourage that is to grow the market for verified sustainable tropical timber from those certified forests.”

The findings also bear out statements of the Fair&Precious campaign that certified forest concessions ensure preservation of wildlife habitat.

“In addition, the communication routes maintained within the forests improve the mobility of large mammals, which has resulted in the repopulation of the various species,” it says.

Workers in the Peruvian FSC-certified forest used reduced impact logging strategies including pre‐harvest inventory, plunge cut, planned skidding and directional felling to reduce collateral damage. The FSC concessions also had lower harvesting intensity in terms of number of trees and timber volume, higher log recovery and they damaged fewer commercial species during felling than non‐FSC concessions.

According to the WWF, timber production takes place in around a third of tropical forest. Poorly conducted logging, it says, can degrade ecosystems and fragment habitats, threatening biodiversity. However, responsibly managed logging can conserve it, as well as providing sustainable  local livelihoods and economic development.

This findings of the latest research complement an earlier study which concluded that densities of large and medium-sized tropical animals in FSC-certified logging areas, including jaguars and pumas, were similar to or even higher than in protected areas.

“This new study shows us that it is possible to combine production forestry with biodiversity conservation if done in the right way and in the right places.” said William Baldwin-Cantello, WWF Forest Practice Lead.