Logged forest on left, unlogged forest on right... photo: Wakx via flickr
Conventional political wisdom on rainforest degradation is that once you've logged an area once, or even twice, removing the largest most valuable trees, the forest becomes degraded to the point that biodiversity losses make it not worth protecting. In Borneo, often the land is turned over to plantation agriculture. A new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B finds that wisdom to be false. In fact logged areas still hold significant levels of biodiversity and are worth protecting.75% of Species Remain After Two Rounds of Logging
Looking at birds and dung beetles as indicator species for overall biodiversity, the researchers examined primary forests, and forests that had been logged once, as well as those logged twice.
Even after two rounds of logging over 75% of species remained, though about half of those experienced changes in population levels.
Interestingly, the study found that birds endemic to Borneo were unaffected by one round of logging, but after a second round nearly half were affected.
Specific to the conversion of these degraded forest to plantation agriculture, the study found that though endangered birds are threatened by logging, even in these areas the birds had "a two hundred-fold higher abundance" than in palm oil plantations.
Both Primary Forest & Degraded Forest Need Protection to Preserve Biodiversity
Report lead author David Edwards told Mongabay,
Whilst the value of primary habitat is undisputed and efforts to protect them are vital, the area of primary forest in Borneo is rapidly diminishing and is increasingly fragmented. It is only with the inclusion of logged over, degraded forests that large-scale networks of protected areas can be maintained and the long-term viability of Borneo's biodiversity guaranteed.
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