Editor’s Choice 56:1 – If a tree is felled in the forest, does anybody hear?

Investment in post-logging interventions may be the way to show people have heard, and perhaps more importantly, are acting. Jennifer Firn provides our first Editor’s Choice of Volume 56. The selected article is the Review, Actively restoring resilience in selectively logged tropical forests by Gianluca R. Cerullo and David P. Edwards.

I think it’s safe to say you would be hard pressed to find an ecologist that has not heard of the Bonn Challenge. There is good reason for its notoriety, it is an unprecedented global effort aimed at restoring 150 million ha’s of the world’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020 and 350 million by 2030. The Bonn Challenge was initiated in 2011 to assist with the realisation of other global efforts such the CBD Aichi Target 15, the UNFCCC REDD+ goal, and the Rio+20 land degradation neutrality goal. With 40 countries as signatories to this global challenge, it has become a crucial tool for many to assist with balancing national priorities for rural development and environmental policy along with global commitments on climate change mitigation and the conservation of biodiversity (for more information, see here).

machete redly
Removing lianas to speed up forest recovery (photo by Gianluca Cerullo).

A large focus of the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests has been on restoring deforested lands—an important challenge aimed at optimising environmental and socio-economic goals. What is less clear is the importance of aiming to restore multi-values in forests slated as ‘production forests’. There is considerable evidence that secondary forests including ones that have were selectively logged have a higher restoration potential either through natural regeneration processes or through small-scale interventions. Most production forests are multi-use forests and are estimated to account for 26% of the global forest area and 17% of tropical forest areas; therefore ignoring selectively logged forests in production zones for restoration efforts is undoubtedly a missed opportunity.

In this issue’s Editor’s Choice article, Cerullo and Edwards review the evidence and make recommendations on the opportunities for post-logging interventions in tropical forests to assist with meeting global restoration agendas. Their Review provides clear evidence that policymakers and practitioners should invest in recovering multiple benefits from these forests including carbon stores, non-timber forest products and biodiversity.

seedlling store
A seedling store at INFAPRO seedling nursery, where a number of different seedling species are tended for enrichment planting in logged forest (photo by Gianluca Cerullo).

The post-logging interventions proposed by Cerullo and Edwards include reduced impact logging, and enrichment planting. These interventions are not new from a forest industry standpoint, but what is new is the way in which the authors analyse the multi-objective benefits of these interventions across spatial scales. For example, they propose using timber enhancement techniques to design biodiversity-friendly production landscapes advocating with evidence for a land sparing approach where logging practices are conducted in intensive areas but large contiguous blocks of old-growth forest are conserved.

Cerullo and Edwards also investigate ways of operationalising the proposed post-logging interventions including suggesting ways of influencing business norms, securing funding, building capacity and scalability, and policies that may encourage commercial investments in post-logging interventions.

Restoration ecology is multidisciplinary and forests are the backbone of human civilization—people need forest—this is undeniable. This Editor’s Choice Review is important and timely as it provides a synthesis of global initiatives; while at the same time, and uniquely in my opinion, ‘gets their hands dirty’ metaphorically speaking by comparing on the ground technical practices in tropical forest including a thought-provoking set of future questions and directions.

Read the full Editor’s Choice article, Actively restoring resilience in selectively logged tropical forests, for free in issue 56:1 of Journal of Applied Ecology.

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