Based on two different studies, the research showed that commercially logged tropical forests can help preserve wildlife when they are managed according to the FSC standards. WWF also created a new website offering visitors a virtual tour of an FSC-certified forest to discover some of the species recorded by the researchers.
So far, scientific evidence of FSC’s impact in preserving wildlife has been limited. To address this research gap, WWF supported independent scientific investigations looking at the outcomes of FSC-certified forest management operations for local wildlife. The two studies were conducted in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon area.
A first study to film species
For the first study from 2014, researchers from San Diego Zoo Global – supported by WWF – used camera traps to evaluate populations of mammals, such as jaguars, tapirs and pumas, in five FSC-certified logging areas managed by independent concessions.
The camera traps showed that FSC-certified concessions have healthy populations of large and medium-sized mammals as these were the most represented groups of animals among the 27 species recorded over a four-month period.
The results also indicated that some mammals used logging roads for ease of movement. This was particularly true for predators like jaguars and pumas, as they tend to travel long distances to hunt.
Acoustic analysis of smaller forest areas
The second study in 2017 had a different emphasis: WWF – in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico – organized an acoustic analysis over four months to focus on the impacts of sustainable forest management at a smaller scale. The research team used cell phones to record the sounds of hundreds of species of birds, insects, amphibians and monkeys. The research took place in two FSC-certified logging concessions and one non-certified concession.
The FSC-certified concessions appeared to have a greater richness of acoustically active species than the non-FSC certified concession, since greater quantity and variety of sounds were recorded in the certified areas. Logged and undisturbed FSC-certified areas showed more similarity in species composition than non-FSC certified concessions.
General summary of the report and related website
The studies demonstrated that FSC-certified low-intensity logging could help preserve wildlife species in tropical forests. These concessions could even complement protected areas to provide extensive habitat for a wide range of Amazonian species.
However, WWF concluded that more scientific research and long-term biodiversity monitoring are needed to show the impact of FSC certification as the results in Peru may not necessarily apply elsewhere. Additional studies should therefore include different ecosystems and regions, as well as different forest management strategies to see where and how FSC certification can be most effective in preserving biodiversity.
WWF called for FSC to collect and report data on biodiversity systematically – through audit information – and to establish strategic collaborations with research institutions to help facilitate data collection. FSC is already studying how to collect and report data consistently to facilitate our understanding of socio-economic and environmental outcomes of certification. We are also open to develop strategic collaborations with different research organizations and are currently preparing a strategic research agenda.
To learn more about the species the research teams observed and see what FSC-certified forests look like in the Peruvian Amazon, please visit http://peruamazon.panda.org/ - the website WWF has created to illustrate the results of these studies. It includes an explanation of the research and the different species that can be found from the canopy down to the ground of the jungle, illustrated through sound clips and videos of various species.
You can also read WWF’s full report on the results of the studies on their website.