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Modeling the complex impacts of timber harvests to find optimal management regimes for Amazon tidal floodplain forests

August 31, 2015

At the Amazon estuary, the oldest logging frontier in the Amazon, no studies have comprehensively explored the potential long-term population and yield consequences of multiple timber harvests over time. Matrix population modeling is one way to simulate long-term impacts of tree harvests, but this approach has often ignored common impacts of tree harvests including incidental damage, changes in post-harvest demography, shifts in the distribution of merchantable trees, and shifts in stand composition. We designed a matrix-based forest management model that incorporates these harvest-related impacts so resulting simulations reflect forest stand dynamics under repeated timber harvests as well as the realities of local smallholder timber management systems. Using a wide range of values for management criteria (e.g., length of cutting cycle, minimum cut diameter), we projected the long-term population dynamics and yields of hundreds of timber management regimes in the Amazon estuary, where small-scale, unmechanized logging is an important economic activity. These results were then compared to find optimal stand-level and species-specific sustainable timber management (STM) regimes using a set of timber yield and population growth indicators. Prospects for STM in Amazonian tidal floodplain forests are better than for many other tropical forests. However, generally high stock recovery rates between harvests are due to the comparatively high projected mean annualized yields from fast-growing species that effectively counterbalance the projected yield declines from other species. For Amazonian tidal floodplain forests, national management guidelines provide neither the highest yields nor the highest sustained population growth for species under management. Our research shows that management guidelines specific to a region’s ecological settings can be further refined to consider differences in species demographic responses to repeated harvests. In principle, such fine-tuned management guidelines could make management more attractive, thus bridging the currently prevalent gap between tropical timber management practice and regulation.

Publication Year 2015
Title Modeling the complex impacts of timber harvests to find optimal management regimes for Amazon tidal floodplain forests
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0136740
Authors Lucas B. Fortini, Wendell P. Cropper, Daniel J. Zarin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PLoS ONE
Index ID 70159976
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center