Guyana leads the way for Intact Forest Landscapes

Almost 90 percent of Guyana’s roughly 750,000 residents live in coastal areas outside of the forests, which contributes to the preservation of the country’s intact forest landscape. Over the past two decades, deforestation rates in Guyana have ranged from between 0.02 percent to 0.079 percent – far less than many other tropical countries. The full article is available here…

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What will expanding the Georgetown-Lethem road mean for conservation?

A new report by Conservation International details the predicted impacts of expanding the Georgetown-Lethem road through Guyana’s forests. This report presents an assessment of the potential impacts on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services that can arise from the upgrade of the Georgetown to Lethem Road. This assessment builds on, and is guided by, a number of previous studies of the planned upgrade. This report includes the results of several studies conducted over a thirteen month period.

Read the report here

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Detailed study in Iwokrama shows little effect of reduced-impact logging on biodiversity

New research conducted in the Iwokrama Forest in Guyana has highlighted the value of a modern logging technique for maintaining biodiversity in tropical forests that are used for timber production.

Researchers at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent say that with over 4 million km2 of tropical forests harvested for timber worldwide, improving the way logging impacts on wildlife is essential for global biodiversity conservation.

Members of DICE conducted the most comprehensive study of Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) to date, surveying wildlife communities over a five-year period before and after timber harvesting.

The research team, comprising Dr Jake Bicknell, Dr Matthew Struebig and Dr Zoe Davies, discovered that RIL had very little effect on the birds, bats and large mammals in the rainforests of Central Guyana. In fact, they found that the natural rates of change in the wildlife communities were greater than those resulting from this type of modern, best-practice logging technique.

Now the researchers hope the new evidence, showing the benefits of adopting RIL over conventional logging, will encourage governments and timber companies to make the switch in their timber industry practices.

Dr Bicknell said the research demonstrated that RIL is a ‘cost-effective option’ that will ensure the long-term sustainability of biodiversity-rich tropical forests around the world. It is better for wildlife because it ‘minimises collateral damage to unlogged trees in the forest, and reduces gaps in the forest canopy which are associated with conventional logging’.

Andrew Snyder Logging in Guyana

The paper, titled Reconciling timber extraction with biodiversity conservation in tropical forests using reduced impact logging, is published in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Download the paper here

Pledge to regulate hunting

Guyana announced Thursday that it has created a task force to curb a thriving illegal wildlife trade that targets animals in the South American country’s lush interior.

The move comes amid an uptick in exotic meats being exported and sold at local restaurants as well as an increase in hunters from the U.S., Canada and neighboring Trinidad.

The Natural Resources Ministry said the task force will help enforce wildlife protection laws and ensure that hunting seasons are being respected. It also will be responsible for issuing the first-ever permits to hunters and trappers as well as vendors who sell wild game.

Animals including jaguars, wild hogs and deer live in Guyana’s heavily forested interior. Rivers in that region also are home to the Arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

The government appointed retired army official Maj. Gen. Joseph Singh to run the task force.

-Sapa-AP

Reduced-Impact Logging supports biodiversity

When it comes to logging, it may be possible to have our timber and our tropical forests, too. The key, according to a report in the journal Current Biology on December 1, is careful planning and the use of reduced-impact logging (RIL) practices that avoid unnecessary damage to the surrounding forest.

“Four million square kilometres of tropical forest are designated for logging globally,” says Jake Bicknell of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, noting that this represents an area larger than the size of India. “Even if we could improve timber harvesting operations across a proportion of this area, the benefits for biodiversity and its conservation would be very substantial indeed.”

RIL practices reduce the level of damage within the forest that is caused by tree harvesting, Bicknell explains. Those practices include well-planned logging roads, directional felling so that cut trees do not crush those that should be left standing, and cutting vines that might otherwise pull nearby trees down along with those marked for cutting.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of studies, including some conducted in Guyana, and compared diversity in primary tropical forest using conventional logging and RIL. They found consistently lower effects of RIL in comparison to conventional logging practices, with smaller shifts in species abundance following RIL logging. RIL logging appears to cause less harm to birds, arthropods, mammals, and especially bats.

Andrew Snyder logging Guyana_web

The new study comes as welcome news following another report in Current Biology showing that even the removal of very few trees can have a devastating impact on forest animals, and on mammals and amphibians in particular. The latest study suggests that this is because “harvest intensities are not always indicative of actual disturbance levels resulting from logging.” In many cases, plenty of unnecessary damage to the forest is being done.

Consumers can do their part by demanding wood that is RIL certified, although it may be hard to come by for now. Currently, less than five percent of timber production forests meet that standard. Bicknell nevertheless sees reason for optimism.

“The guidelines are already in place, the logging techniques are available, and the expertise exists, so there is little excuse for timber companies not to implement RIL,” he says. “Economically, RIL can bring greater profits to timber companies over the long term, although the initial expenses may be slightly greater than with conventional practices.

“The issue is now advocating the diverse benefits of RIL to stimulate widespread uptake of the techniques. If policy makers and companies respond to the growing scientific evidence-base and move away from the business-as-usual scenario, then I am confident that future prospects for tropical forests and the biodiversity they contain will be much improved.”

Current Biology, Bicknell et al.: “Improved timber harvest techniques maintain biodiversity in tropical forests”

High resolution map shows extent of forest loss

The highest resolution forest loss map to date is today published in the journal Science. The global map includes deforestation across the world including Guyana since 2000, at a resolution of 30m. The collaboration between the University of Maryland, NASA and Google Inc is the first of its kind, and the data will be freely available from January 2014.

See the interactive map here: http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest

Source: Hansen, M.C., Potapov, P.V., Moore, R., Hancher, M., Turubanova, S.A., Tyukavina, A., Thau, D., Stehman, S.V., Goetz, S.J., Loveland, T.R., Kommareddy, A., Egorov, A., Chini, L., Justice, C.O. & Townshend, J.R.G. (2013) High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. Science, 342, 850-853.

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