Rainforests that have been logged several times continue to hold substantial value for biodiversity and could have a role in conservation.
According to principal investigators, Dr Matthew Struebig and Anthony Turner from the University’s Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology (DICE), these findings challenge a long-held belief that there is limited, if any, value of heavily logged forests for conservation.
The research, which monitored bats as an indicator for environmental change on Borneo, is the first of its kind to have wildlife in forests logged more than two times.
Only by viewing forest sites along a gradient of logging disturbance, ranging from pristine to heavily degraded, were the team able to detect a gradual decline of some key bat species.
The research confirmed the most vulnerable bats were those that tend to live in the cavities of old growth trees. By linking bat captures with vegetation measurements from nearby plots, the researchers were able to reveal how these animals declined as successive rounds of logging took their toll on forest structure, and crucially, the availability of tree cavities.
Although logging damage was clearly detrimental to some of the species studied, the findings also offer some hope for forest restoration efforts.
This study is the first field data to be published from the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems Project in Sabah, Malaysia – a new landscape experiment which combines the efforts of more than 100 researchers around the world to investigate the impacts of logging, deforestation and forest fragmentation in the natural world.
DICE is part of the School of Anthropology and Conservation. The field research was supported by grants from The Leverhulme Trust, Bat Conservation International, Chester Zoo, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
Click here for more information on the research paper.
For more information contact Katie Newton.