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Impacts of logging roads on intact forest landscapes in the tropics

Kleinschroth F., Gourlet S., Healey J.R.. 2017. In : Book of Abstracts IUFRO 125th Anniversary Congress 2017. Baden-Württemberg : Forstliche Versuchs- und Forschungsanstalt (FVA); IUFRO, p. 158-158. 125th IUFRO Anniversary Congress, 2017-09-18/2017-09-22, Freiburg (Allemagne).

Road networks are growing globally, especially in tropical countries, allowing human access to remaining Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) that are refuges for biodiversity and provide globally important ecosystem services. Selective logging is now widespread in tropical forests, acting as one of the main drivers of road network expansion, with logging roads often being considered door-openers and conduits for human impacts. The protection of road-free IFL is high on the biodiversity conservation agenda, a challenge for logging concessions certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). However, the impacts of logging roads can be highly variable depending on road use and management. In a logging-hot-spot of the Congo Basin, only 12% of all roads were permanently open, with all others becoming quickly revegetated and inaccessible. Taking limited road persistence into account, we analyzed how road networks in FSC certified concessions affected IFL. We followed the spatial and temporal dynamics of logging roads, comparing roadless space in certified and non-certified logging concessions inside and outside areas declared as IFL in the year 2000. We found that roadless space decreased rapidly in IFL, notwithstanding FSC certification, highlighting the urgent need for measures to safeguard ecological corridors between protected areas and remaining intact forests. Logging concession certification by FSC might play a key role in conserving forest connectivity by strategic road network planning. Forest management should make the preservation of large connected forest areas a top priority by effectively monitoring - and limiting - the occupation of space by roads that are accessible at the same time. Given the strong dynamics between the impacts of different types of roads, we challenge the static definition of IFL based on a buffer around any road ever detected.

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