Nav: Home

Study documents impacts of selective logging on Congo's intact forest landscapes

July 15, 2019

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (July 15, 2019) - A new study says that the tropical forests of Western Equatorial Africa (WEA) - which include significant stands of Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) - are increasingly coming under pressure from logging, poaching, and associated disturbances.

The tropical forests of WEA are comprised of significant stands of IFLs, which are forest and associated mosaics lacking overt human disturbance such as infrastructure. The vast majority of IFLs found in the Republic of Congo are located in the north of the country, which is also inhabited by extraordinary biodiversity, including chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Forests of northern Congo are also comprised of timber-rich stands, the exploitation of which is a big driver of the region's economy and development.

Publishing in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, researchers from Lincoln Park Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Washington University in St. Louis, found that logging road construction had accelerated over the last two decades and has led to a dramatic decline of IFLs. Increased human immigration and degradation of natural resources follows in the wake of such road expansion.

The researchers, together with Park authorities, documented the first instances of elephant poacher incursions in Goualougo Triangle region of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) - considered the most pristine block of rainforest remaining in the entire Congo Basin. This coincided with the arrival of roads and active logging in adjacent forest. Increased access to IFLs that facilitates illegal hunting raises concern and increases challenges for authorities tasked with protecting wildlife across WEA.

As part of a regional monitoring effort, researchers partnered with local government officials and the timber company working in the region to assess ape abundances in relation to habitat characteristics and human-caused disturbances, comparing IFLs and non-IFL areas in the Sangha Trinational landscape, a transboundary UNESCO World Heritage site in the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

They found that IFLs had higher tree densities and less terrestrial vegetation than logged habitats. Results also indicate few ape resources were exploited in the areas logged twice and areas with tree stems removed had higher abundances of ape preferred terrestrial herbs, which may contribute to ape survival prospects. In addition, they found that chimpanzees and gorillas occur at high densities in both IFLs and as non-IFLs. Differences in the lower abundance of large trees in exploited forest were however identified to coincide with differences in ape resource use. The chimpanzee tree nesting niche was reduced in non-IFLs, as night nests were constructed significantly closer to the ground than in IFLs.

Importantly, the study combined data collected at local scales with larger regional satellite monitoring efforts. The identification of erroneously classified IFLs in the Kabo logging concession in this investigation highlights how verifying remotely sensed information is necessary to ensure accuracy. To identify other less visible human-caused impacts, researchers assessed direct and indirect impacts of road expansion and illegal hunting on wildlife in these remote areas. They urge that the results of biodiversity assessments and strategic aspects of long-term protection should be taken into account when developing reduced impact logging (RIL) guidelines in non-certified and certified logging concessions like those bordering the NNNP.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) demands adherence to practices that include protecting biological, environmental service, social and cultural values that are significant or critically important. Such values should also be taken into consideration when identifying conservation set asides. For example, the majority of the remaining IFLs in the Kabo concession is within the Djeke Triangle, which is contiguous but outside the boundaries of the Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic and the NNNP in the Republic of Congo. Thus, this area is a strategic location for curbing future poaching incursions into both protected areas. It also comprises the home ranges of gorillas habituated to human presence for scientific study and tourism development.

"With only eight percent of forests within Western Equatorial Africa remaining intact and on the decline, the preservation of such habitats should be a priority," said David Morgan lead author of the research and conservation scientist at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Emma Stokes, WCS's Regional Director for Central Africa, said: "Intact Forests are important not only for elephants, chimpanzees, and gorillas, but also for climate regulation, indigenous cultures and overall ecosystem health; their loss has a disproportionate impact on the surrounding area."
-end-
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world's oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Related Chimpanzees Articles:

In chimpanzees, females contribute to the protection of the territory
Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, extensively studied several neighboring groups of western chimpanzees and their findings reveal that females and even the entire group may play a more important role in between-group competition than previously thought.
Cultural diversity in chimpanzees
Termite fishing by chimpanzees was thought to occur in only two forms with one or multiple tools, from either above-ground or underground termite nests.
Similar to humans, chimpanzees develop slowly
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have systematically investigated developmental milestones in wild chimpanzees of the Taï National Park (Ivory Coast) and found that they develop slowly, requiring more than five years to reach key motor, communication and social milestones.
The genome of chimpanzees and gorillas could help to better understand human tumors
A new study by researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), a joint center of UPF and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), shows that, surprisingly, the distribution of mutations in human tumors is more similar to that of chimpanzees and gorillas than that of humans.
Crops provide chimpanzees with more energy than wild foods
A University of Kent study has found that cultivated foods offer chimpanzees in West Africa more energetic benefits than wild foods available in the region.
The growing pains of orphan chimpanzees
Using long-term behavioral and hormonal data from wild chimpanzees in the Taï Forest, Côte d'Ivoire, researchers from the Taï Chimpanzee Project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, have revealed that mothers may be shaping pre-adult growth and offspring muscle mass even without direct provisioning.
How humans and chimpanzees travel towards a goal in rainforests
How do human-unique ranging styles, like large home range and trail use, influence the way we travel to our goals?
Chimpanzees' working memory similar to ours
Working memory is central to our mental lives; we use it to add up the cost of our shopping or to remember the beginning of this sentence at its end.
Research identifies key driver for infanticide among chimpanzees
Study concludes that the sexual selection hypothesis was the main reason for the high rates of infanticide among a community of chimpanzees in Uganda.
Chimpanzees catch and eat crabs
Chimpanzees have a mainly vegetarian diet, but do occasionally eat meat.
More Chimpanzees News and Chimpanzees Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Flag and the Fury
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained "officially" flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.