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Haworth, J.
Life after Logging: the impacts of commercial timber extraction in tropical rainforests
1999  Full Book

This report is a revised edition of the report published by Friends of the Earth in 1992. Whilst it draws upon that earlier work, it also aims to review the significant development in scientific understanding of the impacts of logging that have been gained in the intervening years. In recognition of the increasing importance with which the developments are considered, this report is a collaborative effort between a number of international non-governmental organisations concerned with tropical rainforest protection. We believe that this review is particularly timely; the last six years have seen important changes taking place in the landscape of forest policy at the global level, as well, in many countries, as at the national and local level. There have been important shifts in the political economy of the tropical timber trade, particularly the global expansion of Asian logging companies into new frontier forest areas. New alliances have been forged between, for example, some conservation organisations and the private sector. One of the most significant developments has been the various attempts at establishing regional and global principles and criteria for forest management, as well as verification and certification systems based upon these principles and criteria. These developments may open up possibilities for objective assessment of the performance of forest managers, thus greatly facilitating the implementation of policy, such as the targeted application of appropriate incentives and disincentives. This review is not exhaustive, but summarises many of the main papers and reports from the relevant scientific and technical disciplines. The emphasis is on ecological and environmental impacts of logging; social issues are touched upon, but not in great detail. This is not an indication that these issues are considered to be of any less importance, but merely that they have been well documented elsewhere. Sections 1- 3 consider, in turn, the evidence of the impacts of logging on forest structure and the development of secondary vegetation, on the forest as a habitat for wildlife, and on the physical (environmental) functions of the forest. Section 4 then reviews the literature on logging as a catalyst for further damage by other agents of change. Section 5 briefly addresses some of the social and economic impacts of logging on human societies; it is limited to a brief review of the impact on communities native to tropical rainforest areas, and a consideration of some of the economic questions concerning sustainable forest management. Section 6 considers attempts to reduce the various impacts of commercial logging. Section 7 reviews the historical record of 'sustainable natural forest management', and considers the possible implications of this record for present policy. Conclusions and discussion follow in Section 8. It is felt that the findings of this report have broad significance for policy-making in respect of tropical forest logging, and are potentially applicable to many and varied policy processes. For this reason, specific recommendations directed at specific institutions and processes have not been made. The aim of the discussion section is to question whether current approaches to tropical forest logging policy are always appropriate, and to cause a general re-appraisal of the way that these issues are dealt with in the future.

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