New study finds logged tropical forests are surprisingly vibrant and need protection - Phys
Logging affects many of the world's tropical forests, and such forests are often considered degraded because they have lost vegetation structure, biomass and carbon stocks. But there has rarely been analysis of whether the ecological health and functionality of these ecosystems are similarly degraded. A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford, finds that logged rainforests are treasure-troves of healthy ecological function and should not be written off for oil palm plantations. This article gives some insights into the newly published paper.
Logging affects many of the world's tropical forests, and such forests are often considered degraded because they have lost vegetation structure, biomass and carbon stocks. But there has rarely been analysis of whether the ecological health and functionality of these ecosystems are similarly degraded.
A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford, finds that logged rainforests are treasure-troves of healthy ecological function and should not be written off for oil palm plantations.
Lead author Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford says, "We were very surprised by how much more energy was flowing through the logged forests compared to the old-growth forest, and that it was flowing through the same diverse range of species found in the old-growth forest. We had not expected the logged forest to be so ecologically vibrant."
The research, "Logged tropical forests have amplified and diverse ecosystem energetics," published in Nature tackles this issue through the perspective of ecosystem energetics—the cascade of energy from plants to mammals and birds through the food they consume.
The research team combined more than 36,000 tree, root, and canopy measurements with population data on 248 vertebrate species from old-growth forests through logged forests to oil palm plantations in Borneo.
Remarkably, the study found that the ecological energy flow through the logged forest was 2.5 times greater than in the old-growth forest, before collapsing in the oil palm plantations. The logged forest supported similar or greater densities of almost all bird and mammal species.
The authors emphasize that old-growth forests still hold immense ecological value and high carbon stocks, and need to be left intact where possible. But this study questions the labeling of logged forests as "degraded" when they are so ecologically vibrant. Such labeling can mean these logged forest landscapes are seen as lower priorities for protection and are cleared to make way for agriculture such as oil palm.
Professor Malhi concludes, "In tropical forests, and probably in many other ecosystems, not everything that looks broken, is broken."
The study required meticulous counting of almost all bird and mammal species in the remote study sites, as well as measuring the growth rates of trees and their leaves and roots.
Dr. Matthew Struebig, co-author and Reader in Conservation Science at the University of Kent, added, "In the early morning, ornithologists listened out for birds, while evenings were spent catching bats in special traps. Meanwhile, trail cameras and cage traps over 77,000 combined nights provided much-needed information on secretive and elusive mammals, from tree shrews, sun bears and elephants."
Dr. Terhi Riutta, co-author, Post Doctoral Researcher at the University of Exeter, said, "This work would not have been possible without the many years of detailed fieldwork by our partners and research assistants in Malaysia, often in very tough conditions."
Professor Robert Ewers, co-author at the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, added, "Ecologists often just study one aspect of an ecosystem, like its trees or its birds. This study shows how meticulous and joined-up research across a wide range of species can yield surprising and important new insights into the nature of ecosystems in a human-dominated world."
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Kinshasa, DRC, 13 February 2024: The Congo Basin Science Initiative has officially joined the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). The Basin Science Initiative is now one of 127 member countries and organizations working together in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership to promote sustainable resource management, combat climate change and its impacts, improve living conditions and protect the unique biodiversity of Central Africa’s tropical forest.
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This is the question posed by Development Advocates (GDA) in its new publication: Deforestation-free cocoa in Cameroon: questions, concerns and priorities from smallholder farmers. The document sets out the challenges Cameroon faces in doubling its domestic cocoa production, retaining access to its biggest market (the EU) and reducing the pressure on its forests. Please download the GDA publication...
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The Climate Chance Europe 2024 Wallonia Summit "Adaption to climate change, Nature-based Solutions and Resilience" was held at the Palais des Congrès in Liège on 8 and 9 February 2024. Over two days, the Summit brought together nearly 1,000 participants of more than 20 nationalities, from numerous European networks and organisations of non-state actors such as businesses, researchers, civil society and local governments.
As the world’s top decision-making body on the environment, UNEA-6 will bring together ministers, intergovernmental organizations, the broader UN system, civil society groups, the scientific community and private sector to shape global environmental policy. This year, we’re expecting more than 70 Ministers and 3,000 delegates to join us in Nairobi. We currently have 20 draft resolutions and two draft decisions submitted for countries to discuss. Ms. Ochalik will share more on this. I will talk about the wider context of UNEA-6, and what it means.
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For months last year, Florida’s beachgoers were plagued by rotting tangles of decaying seaweed that had washed ashore. Known technically as sargassum, the thick clumps were part of a record-setting 8,000-kilometre-long seaweed belt in the Atlantic Ocean. Sargassum blooms cause a range of environmental problems, including coastal “dead zones” bereft of aquatic life. Past sargassum outbreaks have been linked to the excessive release of phosphorus and other chemical substances known as nutrients.
Location: Gustavo Fonseca Meeting room (N 8 – 180) and virtually on Zoom. 3. Speakers: Carlos Manuel Rodríguez. CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility; Ana Maria Gonzalez Velosa, Senior Environmental Specialist, Coordinator of the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program, World Bank Group, Latin America Region; Jean-Marc Sinnassamy, Senior Environmental Specialist, Lead of the CFB IP, GEF Secretariat; Charity Nalyanya, Director, Project Management and Technical Oversight, Conservation International (CI); George Akwah Neba, Team Leader of UNEP’s Congo Basin Team; Yawo Jonky Tenou...
Seated by a crackling fire burning during an inky night, community elder Cosmas Murunga shares some advice to his audience of young listeners. “As you grow up, women might get married outside of the community. But they shouldn’t forget where they came from,” he says. “And you young men, as you grow, know that you will inherit the ways of your fathers, grandfathers and those of your ancestors.”
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Having just completed the 12th meeting of the Governing Council of the CBFP, we would like to thank you once again for the warm reception you gave the Franco-Gabonese Co-Facilitation, which was set up in July 2023. Six months after the start of our Co-Facilitation, we have spoken out on behalf of the Congo Basin at international meetings including...