Carbon and biodiversity impacts of intensive versus extensive tropical forestry

12 Apr 2017
Bronson W. Griscom, Rosa C. Goodman, Zuzana Burivalova and Francis E. Putz, Conservation Letters


How do we meet the demand for wood products while minimizing CO2 emissions and biodiversity losses? In the context of forested landscapes already designated for timber production, should we promote the intensification of production in small areas with intent to spare large areas of forest from human impacts, or would it be better to promote best practices for extensive low-intensity harvests from native forests?

This study from Conservation Letters finds that low-intensity selective logging offers both the best and the worst overall outcomes per unit wood produced, depending on whether certified reduced-impact logging methods are used and whether land tenure is secure. Medium-to-high-intensity natural forest harvests and conversion to high-yield plantations generate intermediate outcomes. Deforestation risk had the strongest influence on overall outcomes. In the absence of deforestation, the study finds logging impacts were lowest at intermediate and high management intensities.