Logging & Biodiversity / by Charlie Noton

Two recent UK studies, released within days of each other, reach opposing conclusions on the effects of logging and biodiversity. The universities of Sheffield and Lancaster go head to head...

Lancaster University: Logging Harms Biodiversity 

This international study looked at, 'Identifying thresholds of logging intensity on dung beetle communities to improve the sustainable management of Amazonian tropical forests'.

The activity of almost 5,000 dung beetles from 53 species was recorded within the largest logging concession in the Brazilian Amazon. There was a rapid reduction in biodiversity up to a logging intensity of around 10-20 m3 of timber removal per hectare after which it flattened.

"Contrary to expectations, we found concave-shaped relationships between logging intensity and biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, demonstrating that sensitive dung beetle species and important processes may be lost following even low intensity anthropogenic forest disturbances," said co-author Professor Jos Barlow of Lancaster University.

"Taken together, these results suggest that production forests in the tropics need to reconsider the scale at which logging intensity is regulated, and put in place measures that further incentivise land sparing to enhance biodiversity conservation."

Sheffield University: Logging Supports Biodiversity

A new study has revealed that tropical rainforests continue to buffer wildlife from extreme temperatures even after logging. 

"Many tropical species have limited options for coping with temperature change. When exposed to extreme heat, a common strategy for animals like frogs and insects is to move to a cool refuge -- like people in a warm room moving towards an open window," says Rebecca Senior, the lead on the study. 

"After 9 -- 12 years of recovery post-logging, the logged forest had a very different structure with fewer large trees and more young saplings. Surprisingly, though, we discovered the average temperature and the availability of cool refuges was comparable with a pristine forest that had never been logged.

 What this means is that regardless of whether the forest was logged or not, the animals that live there should be equally capable of hiding out when it gets too hot."

The Bornean Horned Frog - one of the species studied in the University of Sheffield study.

The Bornean Horned Frog - one of the species studied in the University of Sheffield study.