In the Media
Can loggers be conservationists?
May 10, 2012
Last year researchers took the first ever publicly-released video of an African golden cat (Profelis aurata) in a Gabon rainforest. This beautiful, but elusive, feline was filmed sitting docilely for the camera and chasing a bat. The least-known of Africa’s wild cat species, the African golden cat has been difficult to study because it makes its home deep in the Congo rainforest. However, researchers didn’t capture the cat on video in an untrammeled, pristine forest, but in a well-managed logging concession by Precious Woods Inc., where conservationists’ cameras also photographed gorillas, elephants, leopards, and duikers.
“At the particular area I had my cameras set up, logging had taken place just two years previously, and active logging was going on just a few kilometers away,” Laila Bahaa-el-din, University of Kwazulu Natal graduate student, told mongabay.com at the time, adding that her findings “indicated that logging alone should not mean the depletion of wildlife.”
In fact, a new policy paper in Conservation Letters agrees, making the case that logging in tropical forests could aid overall conservation efforts in the tropics by keeping a home for species like the African golden cat as well as safeguarding many ecosystem services. The authors assert that selective and well-managed logging should be considered a “middle way” between forest protection and outright destruction for monoculture plantations, agriculture, or livestock ranches.
“Selectively logged tropical forests, especially if they are logged gently and with care, retain most of their biodiversity and continue to provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and hydrological functions,” lead author Francis Putz with the University of Florida explained to mongabay.com, but he added that such forests are viewed very differently by many because “they lose the semblance of being untrammeled, pristine, virgin, or entirely natural.”
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Keywords: Africa, conservationist, deforestation, logging, tropical forest