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Life After Logging: Strategic Withdrawal from the Garden of Eden or Tactical Error for Wilderness Conservation?
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2011 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Volume 43, Issue 4, pages 393–395, July 2011
How to Cite
Didham, R. K. (2011), Life After Logging: Strategic Withdrawal from the Garden of Eden or Tactical Error for Wilderness Conservation?. Biotropica, 43: 393–395. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2011.00790.x
- Issue published online: 6 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 25 MAY 2011
- Received 15 December 2010; revision accepted 15 March 2011.
- biodiversity conservation;
- conservation paradigms;
- oil palm plantation
Conservation management has undergone a dramatic paradigm shift from the strong ‘wilderness conservation’ ethos of the 1980s and 1990s to the ‘biodiversity on degraded lands’ ethos of recent years. Most conservation biologists now consider that wilderness conservation alone is no longer sufficient to conserve biodiversity, and conservation strategies must also demand more effective protection for biodiversity on degraded lands. Recognition of this shifting paradigm in biodiversity conservation has led to an overt change in tone of recent studies, emphasizing relatively modest effects of human disturbance, and high biodiversity values on some degraded lands. A case in point is a series of studies from Southeast Asia reporting relatively modest impacts of logging on biodiversity, with the majority of species (75%) persisting after repeated intensive logging. This is a marked shift in conservation message after >30 yrs of research showing substantial adverse effects of logging on biodiversity, and raises serious questions about the appropriate ways to qualify the conflicting messages that ‘human impact degrades biodiversity’ yet ‘degraded habitats have high biodiversity value.’ Clearly logging is the lesser of two land-use evils compared with conversion to intensive cattle pastures, crop fields or oil palm plantations, but there is a real risk that overselling the ‘biodiversity on degraded lands’ paradigm might end up being a double-edged sword for conservation management. After all, if >75 percent of species are resilient to repeated logging, why bother trying to preserve the few remaining wilderness areas from being logged themselves? It remains to be seen whether this new message of ‘weak’ effects of logging on biodiversity will serve its strategic purpose of conserving biodiversity on degraded lands, or simply devalue the last vestiges of wild nature.