Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Biogeography

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | Geography Department | Biogeography | News | Does China's logging ban weaken the conservation function of sacred forest?

Does China's logging ban weaken the conservation function of sacred forest?

Understanding the effectiveness of different conservation approaches is important to guide conservation planning and policy making. A new paper by Jodi Brandt, just published in Biological Conservation, explored how three conservation policies, protected areas, a logging ban, and traditional sacred areas, affected old-growth forest protection in Yunnan in China's southwest. While protected areas and the logging ban resulted in positive forest conservation outcomes, old-growth forests logging inside sacred areas accelerated following the logging ban, suggesting that local institutions may have been weakened by national policies.

 

The relative effectiveness of protected areas, a logging ban, and sacred areas for old-growth forest protection in southwest China

 

Jodi S. Brandt | Van Butsic | Benjamin Schwab | Tobias Kuemmerle | Volker C. Radeloff

 

Forests are critically important for life on earth, prompting a variety of efforts to protect them. Protected areas and logging regulations are the most commonly used forest conservation strategies, but local traditions and religious beliefs can also protect natural resources by limiting exploitative use. We compared the effectiveness of protected areas, a logging ban, and sacred areas to protect forests from logging in Northwest Yunnan, China, a global biodiversity hotspot. We combined Mahalanobis matching and panel regression techniques to measure effectiveness of these three protection strategies paying special attention to old growth forest communities. We found that protected areas had no impact on total forest cover, but effectively conserved old-growth forests relative to non-protected areas. The implementation of the logging ban resulted in positive forest conservation outcomes over most of the landscape. The exception was that logging in old-growth forests inside sacred areas accelerated following the implementation of the logging ban, suggesting that local institutions may have been weakened by official policies. Our research finds little evidence that overlapping conservation policies decrease deforestation and suggests that the implementation of official policies may displace local forms of protection. Our results further highlight that relying on total forest cover as a single indicator of conservation outcomes can lead to misleading conclusions about the impacts of forest protection strategies.

 

Link to the paper: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2014.09.043

Brandt, J., Butsic, V., Schwab, B., Kuemmerle, T., and Radeloff, V. C. (2015): The effectiveness of protected areas, sacred sites and logging bans to protect forests from logging in southwest China Biological Conservation,181, 1-8.