Condition and fate of logged forests in the Brazilian Amazon

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Gregory P AsnerJose N Silva

Abstract

The long-term viability of a forest industry in the Amazon region of Brazil depends on the maintenance of adequate timber volume and growth in healthy forests. Using extensive high-resolution satellite analyses, we studied the forest damage caused by recent logging operations and the likelihood that logged forests would be cleared within 4 years after timber harvest. Across 2,030,637 km2 of the Brazilian Amazon from 1999 to 2004, at least 76% of all harvest practices resulted in high levels of canopy damage sufficient to leave forests susceptible to drought and fire. We found that 16+/-1% of selectively logged areas were deforested within 1 year of logging, with a subsequent annual deforestation rate of 5.4% for 4 years after timber harvests. Nearly all logging occurred within 25 km of main roads, and within that area, the probability of deforestation for a logged forest was up to four times greater than for unlogged forests. In combination, our results show that logging in the Brazilian Amazon is dominated by highly damaging operations, often followed rapidly by deforestation decades before forests can recover sufficiently to produce timber for a second harvest. Under the management regimes in effect at the time of our study i...Continue Reading

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