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Study Demonstrates High Conservation Potential Of Logged Rainforest

DURHAM, N.C. -- A scientific study shows that, eight years after their marketable timber was logged, parcels of Indonesian rain forest contained levels of tree species diversity comparable to those measured in nearby unlogged forest land.

"These results go against a lot of popular dogma," said Charles Cannon, a Duke University doctoral student in botany who is lead author of a report on the work to be published in the Aug. 28 issue of the journal Science.

"The results to me are very preliminary, but I think the main point to take from this is that logged forests are not necessarily destroyed," Cannon said in an interview at Duke. "If they're selectively logged in one cut, there is a great deal of disturbance and damage. But the forests are more resilient than perhaps people have given them credit for.

"This is not pro-logging," he added. "It's not saying that forests are going to be improved upon by logging. And it's not saying that logging doesn't need to be carefully controlled and managed well."

The Science report was co-authored by David Peart, an associate professor in biological sciences at Dartmouth College, and Mark Leighton, director of the Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology at Harvard University's Peabody Museum. Funding for the research described in the Science report came from the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation Inc., and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Both Peart and Leighton were involved in the study's design. And the sampling method used was modeled after one Leighton devised for his own field research site at Gunung Palung National Park.

That park, in Indonesian Borneo, is close to where Cannon collected his tree data in the early 1990s within a lowland forest that had been logged of commercial tree species, mostly three types of Philippine mahogany.

"Everyone talks about logging in such tropical forests, but there is su
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Contact: Monte Basgall
Monte@dukenews.duke.edu
(919) 681-8057
Duke University
27-Aug-1998


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