Daniel Nepstad, of The Woods Hole Research Center, noted that "Asner's group puts to rest another important controversy in the science of the Amazon rain forest. First they showed that forest degradation by loggers affects as much forest as clear-cutting for cattle ranching and swidden agriculture. This latest article demonstrates that these two processes are intimately linked--that the thinning begets forest replacement by cattle pastures and swiddens."
Overall, the researchers found that selective-logging operations in the Brazilian Amazon were conducted using highly damaging techniques. Encouragingly though, they also found that federally regulated preserves were much less disturbed than unprotected forests.
"This breakthrough has created a novel system to detect and quantify even fine-scale logging damage from satellite images across the vast Amazon," commented Lisa Curran of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "Through their analyses, Asner's team uncovered unforeseen synergies of logging, road access, and subsequent deforestation. Their innovative methods have the potential to revolutionize how we monitor logging damage and its effects on land-use worldwide."
Looking to the future Asner observed, "The new Brazilian timber concession laws for federally protected lands could bring more control over both the high levels of forest damage caused by current logging operations and the loss of selectively logged forest to full deforestation."