Logging concessions can extend the conservation estate for Central African tropical forests.
The management of tropical forest in timber concessions has been proposed as a solution to prevent further biodiversity loss. The effectiveness of this strategy will likely depend on species-specific, population-level responses to logging. We conducted a survey (749 line transects over 3450 km) in logging concessions (1.2 million ha) in the northern Republic of Congo to examine the impact of logging on large mammal populations, including endangered species such as the elephant (Loxodonta africana), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), and bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus). When we estimated species abundance without consideration of transect characteristics, species abundances in logged and unlogged forests were not different for most species. When we modeled the data with a hurdle model approach, however, analyzing species presence and conditional abundance separately with generalized additive models and then combining them to calculate the mean species abundance, species abundance varied strongly depending on transect characteristics. The mean species abundance was often related to the distance to unlogged forest, which suggests that intact forest serves as source habitat for several species. The mean species abundance responded nonlinearly to logging history, changing over 30 years as the forest recovered from logging. Finally the distance away from roads, natural forest clearings, and villages also determined the abundance of mammals. Our results suggest that logged forest can extend the conservation estate for many of Central Africa's most threatened species if managed appropriately. In addition to limiting hunting, logging concessions must be large, contain patches of unlogged forest, and include forest with different logging histories.
Clark, CJ; Poulsen, JR; Malonga, R; Elkan, PW
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