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Intact Forest in Selective Logging Landscapes in the Tropics

  • Putz, Francis E.1
  • Baker, Tracy2
  • Griscom, Bronson W.3
  • Gopalakrishna, Trisha3
  • Roopsind, Anand4
  • Umunay, Peter M.5
  • Zalman, Joey6
  • Ellis, Edward A.7
  • Ruslandi,8
  • Ellis, Peter W.3
  • 1 Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL , (United States)
  • 2 The Nature Conservancy – Africa Region, Highland, NY , (United States)
  • 3 The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA , (United States)
  • 4 Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID , (United States)
  • 5 Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT , (United States)
  • 6 Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control, Paramaribo , (Suriname)
  • 7 Centro de Investigaciones Tropicales Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa , (Mexico)
  • 8 The Nature Conservancy International Program, Jakarta , (Indonesia)
Published Article
Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jun 12, 2019
DOI: 10.3389/ffgc.2019.00030
  • Forests and Global Change
  • Original Research


The selective logging that characterizes most timber extraction operations in the tropics leaves large patches of logging blocks (i.e., areas allocated for harvesting) intact, without evidence of direct impacts. For example, in ~10,000 ha sampled in 48 forest management enterprises in Africa (Gabon, Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo), Indonesia, Suriname, and Mexico, an average of 69% (range 20–97%) of the area in logging blocks was not directly affected by timber harvests. The proportion of intact forest within logging blocks decreased very slightly with increases in harvest intensity in the accessed portion of the logging blocks (9–86 m3 ha−1) but decreased strongly with harvest intensity in entire logging blocks (0.3–48.2 m3 ha−1). More forest was left intact in areas farther from roads, on slopes >40%, and within 25 m of perennial streams, but the effect sizes of each of these variables was small (~8%). It is less clear how much of the intact forest left after one harvest will remain intact through the next. Conservation benefits without reductions in timber yields will derive from better management planning so that sensitive and ecologically critical areas, such as steep slopes and riparian buffers, constitute large and permanent proportions of the intact forest in selectively logged landscapes in the tropics.

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