Log gently in Noah’s Ark


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Many of those birds, monkeys, bats, and big cats the world wants to save live in forests that are going to be logged. If loggers were a little more careful, those animals would be a lot better off. That belief inspired Erik Meijaard and his colleagues to write Life After Logging, Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo. They show how logging affects wildlife in Borneo and elsewhere in Southeast Asia and how to conserve it.

Logging changes forests. The roads and trails that loggers make isolate patches of forest, making it harder for animals to cross between them. Some species flourish, while others become scarce; affecting the food available for animals. Trees get knocked down which animals nest in. More sunlight reaches the ground, drying up the soil and vegetation and making them hotter. Drier forests covered with logging debris catch fire more easily. Soil gets washed into streams and rivers, and alters their environment. Hunters usually show up.

Even so, as long as loggers don’t split the forest into too many pieces and hunting isn’t allowed to skyrocket, most animals tolerate a certain amount of logging; but not all animals. Logging tends to cause more problems for animals that are fussy about what they eat. Animals that only eat insects or fruits suffer more than those with more varied diets. Species that always stay on the ground or in tree tops are more affected than those that roam more widely. Carnivores that require large areas can have a hard time. Fish and frogs that prefer clear water don’t do well when it gets muddied. Still, many animals thrive in logged-over forests.

To protect the fauna, the authors suggest that logging companies: design their roads and trails to avoid dividing the forest into too many fragments; keep out hunters; make smaller gaps in the forest; stop slashing the vines and ground cover; and try not to disturb the soil. Some areas should be left untouched, particularly riversides, abandoned villages, salt springs, and pools of water. Loggers should not cut down hollow trees and fruit trees (particularly figs) or disturb the rotten tree stumps. That won’t save all of God’s creatures, but it would help.


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Further reading

You can download the entire book as a large (2.5 megabyte) pdf file at: www.cifor.cgiar.org/scripts/newscripts/publications/detail.asp?pid=1663

To request a hard copy of the book you can write Nia Sabarniati at mailto:n.sabarniati@cgiar.org Copies are free for people from developing countries. Others must pay for postage.

You can send comments or queries to the authors by writing to Erik Meijaard at: mailto:erik.meijaard@anu.edu.au or Doug Sheil at mailto:d.sheil@cgiar.org

The full reference for the book is: Meijaard, E.; Sheil, D.; Nasi, R.; Augeri, D.; Rosenbaum, B.; Iskandar, D.; Setyawati, T.; Lammertink, M.; Rachmatika, I.; Wong, A.; Soehartono, T.; Stanley, S.; O’Brien, T. 2005. Life after logging: Reconciling wildlife conservation and production forestry in Indonesian Borneo. Bogor, CIFOR & UNESCO.