Actively restoring resilience in selectively logged tropical forests.

Published online
28 Aug 2019
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Cerullo, G. R. & Edwards, D. P.
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Huge tracts of tropical forest are selectively logged. Meanwhile, emerging global agendas are providing unprecedented incentives for large-scale restoration within human-impacted tropical forest landscapes. Whilst logged forests have high conservation value, their adoption within these agendas remains controversial. We review the value of restoring logged tropical forests for boosting economic and environmental resilience. Targeted interventions can recover depleted timber stocks, increase saleable carbon stores, and deliver employment and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to local communities. Restoration has mixed outcomes for biodiversity but if it improves relogging practices and protects forests from conversion to agricultural plantations may have major positive impacts. We also examine socio-economic and political pathways for upscaling logged forest restoration and their incorporation into sustainable forestry, given political and commercial malaise on post-logging interventions. Spurring these transitions will require strong institutions, executed by policies that enable long-term concession licences and community land tenure, that leverage commercial involvement and payments for ecosystem services, and that optimise existing interventions. Research frontiers include: (a) validating the economic and technical feasibility of different interventions; (b) understanding how these interventions impact on synergies and trade-offs between ecosystem services, NTFPs, and biodiversity; and (c) identifying when to restore a logged forest. This requires establishing long-term experimental trials that jointly track environmental and socioeconomic outcomes. Synthesis and applications. Post-logging interventions can deliver various timber, carbon, socioeconomic and potentially biodiversity benefits but are underemployed and undervalued pantropically. Opportunities exist to optimise interventions by tailoring incentives, policies, and management to ecological and social circumstances. Governments, conservation bodies and the private sector must underscore restoration of production forests as a major future objective, including via greater adoption in global initiatives, including forest and landscape restoration under the Bonn Challenge and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) agenda.

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