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Logging roads in tropical forests: synthesis of literature written in French and English highlights environmental impact reduction through improved engineering

Kleinschroth F., Gourlet-Fleury S., Gond V., Sist P., Healey J.R.. 2016. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques (328) : p. 13-26.

Logging roads are considered to be a major cause of forest degradation because of their direct and indirect impacts on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Given the prevalence of logging in tropical forests around the world, effective road management is of crucial importance to reduce both logging- related environmental impacts and the costs of logging operations. Through a review of the literature, our study analysed how logging roads have been addressed in scientific articles to date. We compared studies published over the past 65 years in the Bois et Forêts des Tropiques journal (BFT), mostly written in French, with a range of more recent articles from the Scopus and Web of Knowledge databases. Half of the articles in BFT were published before 1972, while the more generalist databases show a steady increase in publications on the subject since then, up to the current peak number. From the entire body of literature, we selected 126 articles dealing with impacts and management of logging roads in tropical forests around the world for critical appraisal. The BFT articles were characterized by a strong focus on practical issues in forest road engineering, while the focus of many publications written in English was on the identification of road impacts on forest ecosystems. Road-related environmental impacts stem from the loss of forest cover during construction, the increase in edge effects, soil erosion and interference with wildlife, as well as from the resulting easier access to the forest for hunting and agricultural colonization. Based on this review, we present a list of recommended measures to reduce these impacts. We conclude that, despite the continuing attention given to the subject of logging roads, little is known about how they evolve in the forest landscape over the long term. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : écosystème forestier; Érosion; protection de l'environnement; gestion des ressources naturelles; bibliographie; biodiversité; protection de la forêt; abattage d'arbres; aménagement forestier; impact sur l'environnement; route forestière; forêt; forêt tropicale; exploitation forestière

Thématique : Génie forestier; Production forestière; Documentation et information

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