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Eco-label for rainforest products could boost sustainability

Tropical forests around the world continue to fall, largely the result of logging and conversion to agriculture. But new hope for forests has emerged under a scheme that would reward countries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation. Some variations of the concept, which is known as REDD, would allow for “sustainable forest management” (SFM), that is, reduced impact logging of forests, as well as harvesting of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) like seeds, fruit, and game. But the extent to which this harvesting affects forest ecology, and therefore carbon sequestration, is still poorly understood.



A new paper, published in the open access journal Tropical Conservation Science, proposes a new protocol for assessing human impacts on how effectively seeds get dispersed and seedlings germinate and survive, critical processes for forest health and regeneration. The paper applies the protocol to Andiroba (Carapa surinamensis), an important timber species that produces oil-rich seeds used for a wide range of purposes and are dispersed by large rodents deemed “tasty” by local human populations.



One of the sites where Carapa surinamensis was investigated in French Guiana.

Working at sites in French Guiana, Clément Lermyte and Pierre-Michel Forget of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Brunoy, a suburb of Paris, France, found that the protocol is an effective means to rapidly assess how seed dispersal and seedling recruitment are affected by hunting and logging. Hunting reduced seed dispersal — possibly by reducing the abundance of seed-scattering rodents — while canopy gaps resulting from logging, as well as the reduction of seed-eating peccaries by hunters, increased the life expectancy of seedlings.



The authors argue that the results produced by the protocol could be used to create an ecological ‘sustainable management’ label (eco-label) for the harvesting of forest products and hunting.



“The eco-label will serve to promote all conservation and protection measures useful for the regeneration dynamics of commercial large-seeded hard-fruited species harvested for NTFPs,” the authors told mongabay.com.



In other words the eco-label could be used to certify that products sold in international markets have been produced in a manner that doesn’t result in long-term damage to the environment.




CITATION: Clément Lermyte and Pierre-Michel Forget 2009. Rapid assessment of dispersal failure and seedling recruitment of large-seeded non-timber forest products trees in a tropical rainforest Full Text PDF. Tropical Conservation Science Vol.2(4):374-387.







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