ZSL calls for wildlife-friendly timber certification
Tuesday 9 January 2007
We are calling on the timber trade to ensure their logging practices are wildlife friendly as well as sustainable.
ZSL today (Jan 9th 2007) launches its Wildlife Wood Project to develop wildlife indicators that can be used by timber companies in Africa to ensure their logging practices maintain viable populations of wildlife as much as possible.
The goal of the ZSL Wildlife Wood Project is to see that timber production forests are managed to optimise the survival of wildlife populations, given the current threat they face through the bushmeat trade. Currently, timber certification in Africa is concerned mainly with the sustainability of timber harvests, but gives little consideration to the long-term effect on forest wildlife. ZSL will identify wildlife indicators and recommend ways to manage commercial logging in terms of biodiversity as well as sustainability. These indicators can then be used as new criteria in timber certification evaluations so that buyers can verify that wood comes from a sustainable and wildlife-friendly source in Africa.
A ZSL study to determine the scale of the problem faced by wildlife in logged areas will show which animals can survive and which are likely to perish after logging. In particular our work will focus on the effect of logging on hunting for the bushmeat (wild meat) trade. There is evidence that bushmeat hunting has increased in Africa’s tropical forests and that unregulated logging is partly responsible. Roads built to allow workers in also give hunters easy access to forested areas. Targets for the bushmeat market include vulnerable species such as gorillas, chimpanzees and hippos.
An important reason to approach wildlife conservation through timber certification in this way is that over 50% of tropical forests remaining in Africa have been set aside for timber production. There is therefore every reason to work with the timber industry to improve wildlife management in these forests, since national parks alone are unlikely to be able to sustain populations of the larger rarer species. The project will focus in West and Central Africa.
The scheme is being backed by Timbmet Silverman, the UK’s leading importer and distributor of hardwoods and other added value timber products. As well as financial backing, Timbmet has encouraged African timber suppliers to support ZSL field workers to research the effect of logging on wildlife and the bushmeat trade at their concession sites.
ZSL’s Director of Conservation Programmes, Dr Glyn Davies, said: “Sustainable forest management needs to take account of all forest resources, including wildlife, to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives. The key aim of this project is to ensure that forest areas set aside for timber production are managed to optimize survival of wildlife populations.”
Dr Mike Packer, Timbmet's Director of Responsible business commented: “We are delighted that our corporate sponsorship of ZSL has provided some of the seed-funding for this important project and that we have been able to use our connections with forestry companies in Africa to help gain momentum. We already have systems in place to ensure we source from well managed forests but we believe management plans need to embrace a wider range of issues, including bush meat. We hope the Wildlife Wood Project will lead to positive improvements in forestry policy."
The project launches officially at a public meeting being held at the Zoological Society of London on January 9th 2007 entitled Wildlife Wood: Timber and Bushmeat