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Title: The economic and ecological sustainability of the Amazonian timber industry
Author: Richardson, Vanessa Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 7694
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2015
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Selective logging of tropical forests, particularly reduced impact logging (RIL), has long been suggested as a benign compromise between profitable land-use and biodiversity conservation. Throughout human history, slow-renewal biological resource populations have been predictably overexploited, often to extinction. This thesis examines the degree to which timber harvests beyond the first-cut can be financially profitable or demographically sustainable, both of which remain poorly understood. Data on legally planned logging of ~17.3 million m3 of timber were obtained from 824 government-approved private and community-based concession management plans. Results indicate that neither the post-depletion timber species composition nor total value of pre-harvest forest stands recover beyond the first-cut, suggesting that commercially most valuable timber species become predictably rare or economically extinct in old logging frontiers. Additionally, smallholders appear to exert strong high-grading pressure upon high-value hardwood species, thereby accruing higher gross revenue productivity per unit area and were more likely to inconsistently report areas of unlogged forest set-asides as required by Brazilian law. Selective logging leads to several forms of collateral damage (CD) to the residual forest stand. This pattern of structural disturbance is poorly quantified or understood despite representing a key form of forest degradation, or the second ‘D’ of REDD+ (United Nations Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). A review of studies on selective logging impacts on tropical forest fauna revealed that ~90% failed to at least report or attempt to quantify CD. This thesis also examined CD associated with a certified industrial-scale RIL operation of eastern Brazilian Amazonia and finds that for every harvested tree, there is an estimated loss of ~12 damaged stems (≥10cm DBH). Over 30% of total ground sampling area of logged forest was cleared within felled-trees impacts alone. Finally, using RIL concession data from an 11-year time series where ~0.34 million trees were harvested, we estimated the total biomass and carbon stock of harvested trees, their CD, and the infrastructure damage associated with roundlog removal. If only harvested trees and their associated CD are considered, the estimated cost incurred in sparing logging-induced forest degradation through carbon financing projects such as REDD+ could compensate for the ~393 US$ ha-1 yr-1 logging revenues accrued to concession owners.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available