How to make wildlife conservation more compatible with production forestry: a case study from Kalimantan




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How to make wildlife conservation more compatible with production forestry: a case study from Kalimantan

Meijaard1, E., Sheil, D2., Iskandar, D.3, Rosenbaum, B.4, Lammertink, M.5, Augeri, D.6, Rachmatika, I.7, and O’Brien, T.8



1 School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, A.D. Hope Building 014, Australian National University, 0200 ACT, Australia. Email: erik.meijaard@anu.edu.au

2 Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia

3 Division of Ecology & Biosystematics, Department of Biology, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia

4 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

5 Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

6 Wildlife Research Group, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K.

7 Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI)-Biology Department, Cibinong, Indonesia

8 Wildlife Conservation Society – Asia Program, Bronx, New York, USA

Abstract


This paper summarizes a detailed analysis of the relationship between ecological and life history characteristics of a selected number of Bornean vertebrates and their sensitivity to timber harvest and associated impacts. The data suggest that few species are negatively affected by the simple removal of commercial timber species. Associated impacts, however, such as increased hunting pressure in opened-up forest areas, increased erosion and soil compaction, slashing of lianas and ground cover vegetation, and fragmentation of once large forest areas, can significantly reduce survival chances of wildlife populations in logged forests. Many of these negative impacts can be reduced my management interventions that do not necessarily reduce timber output from a forestry concession. Based on these findings, we provide recommendations for forestry management that, if properly implemented, would increase the compatibility between logging and wildlife conservation.

Introduction


Tropical rainforests are the most species-rich terrestrial ecosystems on earth, but these forests are rapidly disappearing as land is cleared for timber, agriculture, development, and other uses. Strictly protected areas are unlikely to be large enough to conserve the full biological diversity found within tropical forests, and the fate of many species depends upon what happens to other forestlands. Forest areas used for environmentally sound and sustainably productive uses represent an opportunity for biodiversity conservation. Although not a substitute for nature reserves, many species could be conserved within a forest estate that is carefully managed on an ecologically sustainable basis (Frumhoff 1995). Productive exploitation of natural forests generally involves some modification to the ecosystem, and some change in the flora and fauna. However, management choices and operational practices can greatly influence the nature and degree of these changes. Since most tropical forests are considered poorly managed, not just for biodiversity conservation but also for productive exploitation (Poore et al. 1989), there is room for improvement (Hunter 1990; Johns 1997; Sheil & van Heist 2000).

This paper is thus based on the premise that the possibility for sustaining biological diversity in production forests requires environmentally sound management practices that incorporate available scientific knowledge concerning species vulnerability to interventions. Tropical ecologists often choose to emphasize how little is known about tropical forests. Obviously more research is needed, but ‘lack of knowledge’ is not an excuse for the prevalence of poor practices in forest management. Sheil and van Heist (2000) proposed that there is already a considerable body of ecological information relevant to the management of tropical forests, even though in practice little of this is used. They argued that to improve the status quo would require collaboration between ecologists and forest managers to develop pragmatic guidance for improved practices. The review and synthesis on which this paper is based (see Meijaard et al. in press) is one component of trying to achieve this collaboration.

Based on their findings, Meijaard et al. (in press) provided recommendations to four main target audiences:


  1. Timber concessionaires

  2. Government

  3. Researchers and research organizations

  4. Local community groups and governmental and non-governmental organizations that address community issues.

The present paper focuses specifically on recommendations to timber concessionaires, especially how changes in forestry management can lead to the maintenance of high biodiversity values in logging concessions. Using studies on different groups of vertebrates we have tried to identify common factors among species that determine sensitivity to logging. Many of these negative factors can be alleviated by relatively small changes in concession management. Although Meijaard et al.’s research focused on a particular part of Borneo (the Malinau area in East Kalimantan), their findings and the recommendations presented in this paper have wider relevance to forest management in Bornean tropical rainforests.

Material and methods


It is often difficult to determine the mechanisms by which forestry interventions affect wildlife. Yet, ecological studies help determine a range of actual and potential factors that may influence various taxa under particular circumstances. A clearly argued account of the various ecological details that might be addressed in good harvesting practices would serve as a guide to the development of more biodiversity-friendly logging guidelines. Current perceptions of supposed ‘good’ tropical forest management are preoccupied with silvicultural (timber production related) practices and socio-cultural issues. Yet, many ecological and taxa-centered studies, while not addressing forest impacts directly, contain relevant information about life history and habitat requirements for potentially vulnerable taxa. Ecological studies of individual species can identify possible changes in feeding, ranging or other behaviour following logging, and how these changes may affect the process of population change. Such information is useful for guiding forestry activities and further supplements studies examining logging impacts on density and distribution.

Meijaard et al. (in press) compiled the available information on a range of ecological and life history variables of Bornean vertebrates. We hoped that these variables would allow us to make predictions on the extinction probability of wildlife species (including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians) in Borneo. For this, we first reviewed the scientific literature, both peer-reviewed and ‘grey’ literature (e.g., reports and theses), for references to the ecology and natural history of Borneo’s vertebrate species. Based on the availability of information we selected the best-known groups for further analysis. We then compiled and synthesized information relating to the factors that potentially affected vulnerability for each selected species group. Some attributes that may be useful in explaining vulnerability—such as physiological tolerances—could not be included in the analysis due to lack of information. A multivariate analysis of the ecological and life history variables for each of the selected species that best predict their sensitivity to logging and associated processes is still in process. Still, the preliminary data allows us to draw general conclusions about logging and wildlife, and in this paper we will concentrate on those findings and their direct implications for concession management.


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