Logging roads a useful proxy for detecting forest degradation, research finds

5 November 2014

BOGOR, Indonesia—Logging roads can offer a simple, accurate way to estimate how much vegetation is removed by loggers, a study in Cameroon has found.

The method enables researchers “to see in an indirect way” the ecological effects of so-called selective logging, says Denis Sonwa, a senior scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and a co-author of the study. This type of logging tends to remove the largest trees and can lead to gaps in the canopy.

Sonwa said this method can provide useful data inexpensively, as the road network associated with logging can either be field-measured or captured by satellite images, which are already widely available to researchers. The fact that the satellite images can be used to give reliable proxies for estimating the trees that are harvested means that this data source is very valuable in supporting sustainable forest management planning, he said.

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