Washington, September 11, 2009 -- Responsibly managed forests – such as those managed according to Forest Stewardship Council standards (FSC) – play an important role in the conservation of the world’s remaining great apes, according to a new World Wildlife Fund report.
The report concludes that though vast protected areas such as national parks and nature reserves offer ideal habitats for great apes, FSC-certified forests can be useful supplements to such protected areas and can also form ‘corridors’ between individual, isolated great ape habitats.
Great Apes and Logging states that more great apes live in areas where logging permits have been issued than in protected nature parks and nature reserves. The authors compared the consequences of different types of logging for species in general, and for great apes in particular. This comparison was based on scientific studies and information provided by large timber companies and conservation societies.
“In the past 50 years, the number of great apes living in the wild has been cut in half,” said Matt Lewis, senior program officer for African Species Conservation. “However, market-oriented solutions like responsibly managed forestry can help save them, along with stricter poaching controls and increased protected areas.”
The authors found that in contrast to other types of logging, responsible logging in accordance with FSC principles is a good guarantee for the preservation of adequate living conditions for great apes. In tropical forests, FSC certification requires independent audits and allows for selective logging. FSC principles also require the maintenance or enhancement of high conservation value forest areas that serve as critical habitat for rare and threatened species. For great apes, this means that fruit trees – an important food source – are maintained.
In the United States and around the globe, FSC-certified products including paper, toys, furniture and many other lumber products carry a label to help consumers identify them.
“US consumers can use their purchasing power to promote responsible forestry and species protection by buying FSC-certified products, which are increasingly available,” said Linda Kramme, Manager of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network for North America.
All four great ape species – bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan – are considered ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ and are at risk of extinction. Great apes live in countries where generally governance and law enforcement is poor. The fundamental threats to great apes are illegal hunting, conversion of natural forests, and destructive logging practices that reduce and degrade their habitats. Under FSC standards, illegal hunting and logging must be controlled.
Among the authors’ recommendations are: the creation of a network of effectively managed parks and FSC-certified logging concessions; stricter policies from governments on the purchase of responsibly managed timber; and more awareness among consumers of the availability of FSC-certified timber.