Tropical Forests and Industrial Logging

More than half of the world’s remaining old-growth forests are production forests, i.e. they are subject to industrial logging. Often, industrial logging is conducted by foreign corporations, in logging concessions. We measured the impacts of foreign logging concessions and forest management plans on deforestation and timber production in the Central Africa, which contains the second largest extent of tropical forests in the world.

FSC-certified timber ready for market

Certified timber ready for market

More than half of the world’s remaining old-growth forests are production forests, i.e. they are subject to industrial logging, increasingly under Sustainable Forest Management Plans. Many are concerned about the proliferation of industrial logging in Intact Forest Landscapes, because the evidence that this is a sustainable forest conservation strategy is limited.

Old-growth tropical trees in a logging concession

Old-growth tropical trees in a logging concession

We investigated this in the Congo Basin, which is the second largest remaining tropical forest in the world, and home to many of the most threatened animals in the world, including forest elephants and lowland gorillas. We found that despite selective logging practices, concessionary logging does lead to deforestation, because logging roads are built to extract trees, and villages are established and grow because of workers who arrive to work in the logging industry.

Traditional houses of Baka Pygmies, native people of Central African rainforests

Traditional houses of Baka Pygmies, native people of Central African rainforests

Especially alarming is that the logging roads penetrate Intact Forest Landscapes, providing access by bushmeat hunters to previously inaccessible core forests and the threatened animals that inhabit them.

HES Researchers

Other Research Collaborators

Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
Christoph Nolte, Boston University

Products

Brandt, J. S., C. Nolte, and A. Agrawal. 2016. Deforestation and timber production in Congo after implementation of sustainable forest management policy. Land Use Policy 52:15-22.

Brandt, J. S., C. Nolte, J. Steinberg, and A. Agrawal. 2014. Foreign capital, forest change and regulatory compliance in Congo Basin forests. Environmental Research Letters 9.