Forests in Guyana struggle to recover after mining

Mining for gold is the number one cause of deforestation in Guyana. But can these forests recover after the mines have been abandoned? New research shows that recovery is very limited in the first 5 years after abandonment, but some parts of the mine where top soils are piled up to grant access to gold deposits below the surface, can regenerate naturally. Read the full study led by Dr Michelle Kalamandeen here:

Parts of an abandoned artisanal gold mine in Guyana

Big animals can survive reduced-impact logging — if done right

Employing camera traps to survey Amazonian mammals in Guyana, researchers found that large mammals and birds did not see a lower population of target species in reduced-impact logging areas as compared to unlogged areas. For some species, like jaguars and pumas, population numbers actually rose.

The research was conducted in an unusually managed swath of forest: Iwokrama. Spreading over nearly 400,000 hectares (close to 990,000 acres) – an area a little smaller than Rhode Island – Iwokrama Forest is managed by the not-for-profit Iwokrama organization and 16 local Makushi communities.

Looking at 17 key species in the area – including 15 mammals and two large birds – the researchers found that populations didn’t change much between logged and unlogged areas, a sign that Iwokrama’s logging regime is not disturbing the area’s larger taxa.

Read more…

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…


Logging has little impact on tree regeneration


A new study finds that Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) techniques in Guyana have only minimal effects on the regeneration of trees. The study conducted in the logging compartments of the Iwokrama Forest by the University of Kent, counted seedling regeneration in forest that had been logged and in areas that had not been affected by logging. Few differences were found, in both the commercial and pioneer trees species that were sampled.

Read the full article here


Bats disperse plant seeds in Guyana’s forests

A new study conducted in the Iwokrama Forest shows the importance of bats for assisting the movement of plant seeds across the landscape. The study which was a collaboration between Angelo State University, University of Kent and the Royal Ontario Museum collected faecal samples from bats caught in nets, and shows new interactions between species of plant that were not previously known to be dispersed by bats.

Read the study here

Bat in flight

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



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