Large areas of tropical forest have been designated for timber production but logging practices vary widely. Reduced-impact logging is considered best practice and third-party certification aims to ensure that strict standards are met. This includes minimizing the number of roads constructed, avoiding sensitive areas and strictly regulating hunting. Large scale camera trap grids were utilized in Guatemala and Peru to evaluate the impact of reduced-impact logging in certified concessions upon the large and medium-sized mammal fauna with special emphasis on jaguars (Panthera onca). Spatial capture-recapture models showed that jaguar density in Peru (4.54 ± 0.83 ind. 100 km−2) was significantly higher than in Guatemala (1.52 ± 0.34 ind. 100 km−2) but in both regions, densities were comparable to protected areas. Camera traps detected 22 species of large and medium sized mammals in Guatemala and 27 in Peru and a multi-species occupancy model revealed that logging had no negative impact on any of the species studied and actually had an initial positive impact on several herbivore species. We found no avoidance of logging roads; in fact, many species, especially carnivores, frequently used logging roads as movement corridors. Our results indicate that well-managed logging concessions can maintain important populations of large and medium-sized mammals including large herbivores and large carnivores as long as hunting is controlled and timber volumes extracted are low. Responsible forest management would therefore be an ideal activity in the buffer zones and multiple use zones of protected areas creating much less impact and conflict than alternatives such as agriculture or cattle ranching while still providing economic opportunities. Logging concessions can also play an important role in maintaining landscape connectivity between protected areas.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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