Heavily Logged Rain Forests can Recover

A shot from inside the Manu Biosphere Reserve. 1 by Canopy to Cures. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A shot from inside the Manu Biosphere Reserve. 1 by Canopy to Cures. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An integral part of conserving jaguars is safeguarding their habitats. In some parts of their range, this includes tropical rain forests. But these forests are rapidly disappearing (Whitworth, Downie, von May, Villacampa, & MacLeod, 2016). But while this is cause for immediate action, it is not cause for despair. A recent study suggests that under the right conditions, even clear-cut tropical rain forests can recover (Whitworth et al., 2016; Greenspan, 2016).

Whitworth et al. (2016) carried out extensive surveys in Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve, which I have written about before. They found that regenerating (secondary) forest areas contained 87% of the known species in uncut (primary) patches. This included multiple species of conservation concern; such as the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), and maybe even a new frog species (Greenspan, 2016).

The Whitworth et al. (2016) study detected higher levels of biodiversity than in many other examinations of secondary rain forests. This is likely because of the characteristics of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Many areas have been regenerating for over 30 years, hunting and logging have been banned for 11 years, and there are nearby sections of primary forest from which species can migrate (Whitworth et al., 2016; Greenspan, 2016). The Crees Foundation is also skilled at including local communities in conservation through education and sustainable development, which might help (Crees Foundation, 2015b).

These results offer hope for the future. They show that when conditions are right, heavily degraded tropical rain forests can recover. So while conserving the remaining stretches of primary rain forest is the top priority, it is also worthwhile to protect secondary rain forests (Whitworth et al., 2016).

Lastly, I doubt this will be the last time I write about Manu. The more I learn about it, the more I want to know about it.

Further Reading:

Greenspan, J. (2016, March 28). Good news: A clear-cut Rain Forest can Have a Second Life. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/good-news-a-clear-cut-rain-forest-can-have-a-second-life/.

Whitworth, A., Downie, R., von May, R., Villacampa, J., & MacLeod, R. (2016). How much potential biodiversity and conservation value can a regenerating rainforest provide? A ‘best-case scenario’ approach from the Peruvian Amazon. Tropical Conservation Science, 9(1), 224-245. Retrieved from http://tropicalconservationscience.mongabay.com/content/v9/tcs_v9i1_224-245_Whitworth.pdf.

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19 thoughts on “Heavily Logged Rain Forests can Recover

    1. I actually prefer not to think that way. Instead, I wonder how much the world can regenerate if we seriously commit to using our ingenuity to repair some of the damage we’ve caused. There’s a lot of good we can do if we come together to heal the wounds we’ve created: both to the earth and to each other.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, on one hand I agree, on the other I don’t see the economic system capitulating until it is too late. Maybe some humans will survive the collapse and will try to do differently. But in today’s power structure, it seems we are on a path to at least the destruction of what our world population needs to survive, let alone other species.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Perhaps, but I refuse to think that way. To assume that our species is doomed is the best way to destroy the motivation that we need to be generating. Giving the impression that there’s no hope is the exact opposite of the message we need to be spreading, and it’s perhaps the biggest flaw of the environmental movement. People will only work for change is they believe it’s possible. And it is possible.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. If we can take as motivation the value of all life, it would be better. There is hope, but maybe not for the majority of us. Rather than fatalistic, it can be seen as a rather zen way of approaching the problem. None of us is getting out alive anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. If that works for you, then I won’t tell you what to think. But doom-filled messaging turns people off and greatly decreases their motivation to act. I’m not making this up either, it’s based on psychological research (see http://e360.yale.edu/feature/how_can_we_make_people_care_about_climate_change/2892/).

            So I will never tell anyone that there’s no hope, or that our species is doomed. Self-fulfilling prophecies are real occurrences. If we convince ourselves that all is lost, we’ll act in ways that make it true. But if we refuse to heed such messages and keep trying to create a better future for those who come after us, we may well succeed. Earth is a brilliantly resilient planet that’s already been through five mass extinctions. While the current one isn’t going to be halted overnight, we can be the tremor that starts the wave. So I refuse to take the zen approach in this case, or to encourage others to do so.

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