Options for Conserving Biodiversity in the
Context of Logging in Tropical Forests
Peter C. Frumhoff
Current patterns of tropical timber production pose one of the most significant threats to biodiversity of all natural resource industries. Logging, by its very nature, can seriously affect the structure and species composition of forests (Bawa and Seidler 1998). Moreover, the area of tropical forest affected by logging is vast: A. G. Johns (1997) estimates that 31 percent of remaining tropical forest is officially allocated to timber production, considerably more than the roughly 9 percent that is at least nominally under stricter protection. The area of production forest is also growing, particularly in the tropical Americas, with increased foreign investment in forestry (Bowles et al. 1998) and expanding domestic and international demand for tropical hardwood products (FAO 1993; Uhl et al. 1997).
Preceding chapters have focused on the overall threat of logging to tropical biodiversity, the role of community management and timber certification in conservation, and a case study of the profitable development of plantations to meet wood and pulp supplies. In this chapter, we address the basic question of how best to achieve concrete conservation results in the context of logging in natural tropical forests.
In recent years, most efforts to promote conservation in tropical forests have focused on one of two approaches—outright protection of high-priority areas and natural, or “sustainable, ” forest management (NFM). Outright protection, through parks and reserves, is an essential element in biodiversity conservation. Strict protection is not always politically or economically feasible, however. Areas that have valuable stocks of commercial timber, for example, will be under