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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 134-136

Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo

Department of Ecology & Biodiversity, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China

Correspondence Address:
Richard T Corlett
Department of Ecology & Biodiversity, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
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Date of Web Publication26-Jun-2009

How to cite this article:
Corlett RT. Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo. Conservat Soc 2007;5:134-6

How to cite this URL:
Corlett RT. Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2007 [cited 2020 Sep 26];5:134-6. Available from: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/text.asp?2007/5/1/134/55791

Erik Meijaard, Douglas Sheil, Robert Nasi, David Augeri, Barry Rosenbaum, Djoko Iskandar, Titiek Setyawati, Martjen Lammertink, Ike Rachmatika, Anna Wong, Tonny Soehartono, Scott Stanley and Timothy O'Brien. Life after Logging: Reconciling Wildlife Conservation and Production Forestry in Indonesian Borneo. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Jakarta, Indonesia, 2005, 345pp, Price not listed. ISBN 979-3361-56-5.

This book is based on the reasonable premise that ecological research can and should contribute to improving forest management in the wet tropics of Southeast Asia. With a few relatively minor exceptions, the book is probably as good as it could be. That is not to say that it fully succeeds in its aims, but that the deficiencies are in the research literature on which it is based, rather than the synthesis presented here. Add to this the fact that it is available free from CIFOR and it becomes clear that this is a major contribution to the literature on production forestry in the tropics.

The primary aims of the book are to understand what makes vertebrates vulnerable to logging and the associated impacts, and then to use this understanding to develop recommendations for improved management practices and priority areas for future research. Most published research on logging impacts has focused on what declines and what does not. As the excellent introduction points out, however, such information is rarely sufficient to devise specific changes in management practices, short of a total logging ban. The authors suggest that by linking the sensitivity of individual species to particular ecological and life history traits it may be possible to improve protection of specific habitat characteristics while still allowing timber production. If this can be done, large areas of forest devoted to sustainable forestry could potentially link and supplement the inevitably small and fragmented areas under strict protection. For example, if a decline in hollow-using vertebrates after logging is linked to the loss of rotten and hollow trees, it may be possible to minimise this decline by retaining such trees, at relatively little cost to concession holders. Of course, the critical features for wildlife could turn out to be completely incompatible with commercial logging, but the reported abundance of wildlife in some logged forests suggests that this is not generally the case.

The book focuses on the lowland rainforests of the Malinau District of East Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo, which is CIFOR's principle study area. However, it makes use of all the relevant literature from the region-largely from Borneo or on Bornean vertebrate species-so this is much more than just another logging case study. For readers from tropical Asia, the authors' synthesis of the vast regional "grey" literature, in the form of unpublished or hard-to-obtain reports and conference proceedings, will be one of the most useful features of this book. It is not clear why so little research in the region has made it into the peer-reviewed international scientific literature, but this is now becoming a real problem for researchers. The authors emphasise the uneven coverage of the available literature, but I could not find anything important that they had missed.

The review section of the book starts with an admirably concise chapter on the background concepts, based on the global, regional and Bornean literature. This is followed by chapters on birds, highlighting the sensitivity of the relatively well-studied hornbills, woodpeckers and pheasants, and mammals, where most information is available for primates, squirrels and the sun bear. There is then a short chapter on amphibians and reptiles, and an even shorter one on fish, both of which make good use of the limited literature. The next section is a statistical analysis of species characteristics in relation to their sensitivity to logging, coded as intolerant, neutral (i.e. no significant effect on population densities) and tolerant (i.e. a positive effect). The independent variables include aspects of ecology, life history, distribution and taxonomy, as well as the density in unlogged forest. The results of these analyses are not very informative: there are a number of suggestive patterns, but few of them reach statistical significance.

The next section gives detailed recommendations for improving concession management and government planning in relation to forestry. The connections between these recommendations and the preceding review sections are generally tenuous, but each recommendation is accompanied by a brief summary of the supporting arguments. The combination of detailed recommendations with clear justifications is an outstanding feature of this book: one that books with similar ambitions to influence what happens on the ground would do well to emulate. I only hope that these recommendations reach the right people. The final section gives recommendations for future research. This is a simple wish list, with which few researchers in the field would disagree. The book ends with some useful appendices, including detailed summaries of the information available for each of the major vertebrate species studied.

It is easy to pick out things that might have been done better in a book of this length and ambition, but none of these detract from its overall value. Although the book explicitly focuses on vertebrates, a few pages reviewing logging impacts on invertebrates and plants would not have been out of place. I would also like to have seen a discussion of the usefulness of vertebrates as a proxy for the conservation of biodiversity as a whole. There is a real risk that an exclusive focus on charismatic vertebrates will lead to the undervaluing of sites that no longer support them. Finally, despite the title, one of the strongest overall messages from this book is that hunting, not timber harvesting, is the major threat to most large vertebrates in Borneo. Unfortunately, this message is strongest in the review sections, while the (sensible) recommendations for controlling hunting are buried among hundreds of other suggestions in the section most likely to be read by managers. Yet if hunting is not controlled, few of the other recommendations will benefit large vertebrates.


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