Responsible forestry can benefit great apes



Posted on 11 September 2009  | 
Zeist, Netherlands: Responsibly managed forests – such as those managed according to Forest Stewardship Council standards – play an important role in the conservation of the world’s remaining great apes, according to a new WWF report.

Great Apes and Logging, released today, states that more great apes live in areas where logging permits have been issued than in protected nature parks and nature reserves. The report also concludes that logging compliant with FSC standards – the quality mark for responsible forest management – is a useful instrument in the conservation of great apes.

The authors compared the impacts of logging on various species, and for great apes in particular. This comparison was based on scientific studies and information provided by large timber companies and conservation societies.

The authors found that in contrast to other types of logging, responsible logging in accordance with FSC principles offers increased assurance that adequate living conditions for great apes are maintained. In tropical forests, FSC logging removes only a selected few trees, leaving the remaining forest standing.

FSC principles also require that habitat conditions for rare and threatened species must be preserved. For great apes, this means that selected fruit trees – an important food source – are preserved under FSC standards.

The report states that the main threat to great apes - particularly in Africa - is illegal hunting. Under FSC standards, illegal hunting and illegal logging must be controlled, while it is up to governments to ensure that anyone found illegally hunting is prosecuted.

The report concludes that though large protected areas such as national parks and nature reserves offer ideal habitats for great apes, FSC-certified forests can be useful supplements to such protected areas and can also form ‘corridors’ between individual, isolated great ape habitats.

In the past 50 years, the number of great apes living in the wild has halved. All four great ape species – bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla and orang-utan – are considered ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ and are at risk of extinction. The great apes live in countries where governance and law enforcement is generally poor. In addition to hunting and disease, the disappearance of its habitat constitutes a serious threat to these species. Scientific studies have shown that expansive home ranges are necessary for the protection of great ape populations

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