Logging and its impact on Forest as a Life source

Eruotor O. Rex 1


Today, the conflict between forest exploiters and forest protectors has intensified, becoming worldwide, and grown into one of the most critical environmental issues of the latter 20th century

Research shows that the major cause of deforestation is logging activities second to shifting cultivation. This imposes a great number of negative impacts on species or the products produced from forest. Strategies for reducing the rate of logging were outlined. Recommendations were made to effect remedial actions.


The start of the Millennium marks the entry of our species into the biological century'. We now have an unprecedented ability to understand biosphere, and put its resource to good use. Yet we are failing miserably to preserve, and use sustainably the diversity of plant and animal species- a diversity of plant and animals species that is bearing lost at unprecedented and accelerating rates in many parts of the world. Forest ecosystems are no exception. We know that more than 20 million hectares of forest we lost in 1998, but such statistics don't tell us how many other forest were severely degraded that year. Destructive pratices like logging contribute to the decline of forest.

Forest ecosystem provides irreplaceable environmental services such as water shed protection and carbon sequestration. We have not yet come anywhere near measuring the value of the earth's intact living asset but with every passing day we are learning to see more urgently their livelihoods before we finally recognize and acknowledge humanity hand in these so-called Natural disaster- Deforestation.

The forests are being destroyed at ever-quickening race. Until recently, the best estimates, based on a 1980 survey by the food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), suggest that some 11.4 million hectares of tropical forest were being felled each year. But a new survey, published by the World Resources Report in June 1990- which for the first time uses satellite observations to build up a global picture that suggests that the rate of destruction has increased to between 16.4 and 20.4 million hectares annually. The higher figure is an area over twice the size of Austria (The variation is governed by the difference between .two annual figures for Brazil, in 1987, a particular bad year, some 9 million hectares are thought to have been destroyed there, as opposed to almost 5 million hectares in 1988). The figures represent areas that have been permanently cleared for other uses, many million of hectares are severely degraded each year.

Many other countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, Laos, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, and the Cote d' Ivore have already lost large areas of their rainforest. Eighty percent of the forest of the Philippines archipelastill had four fifths of its original forest ; now it is left with only two fifths of it. Half of the Brazilian state of Rondonia's 24.3 million hectares have been destroyed or severely degraded in recent years. Here, as in rainforests all over the world indigenous people have been driven from the land they have lived in - and managed sustainably for thousands of years.

Indiscriminate Logging, long thought to be the main reason for deforestation, now takes second place to shifting cultivation by landless forest farmers-estimates to be about 15 million worldwide

Tropical rainforest eradication is often a three staff process. Logging companies carve out concessions and bulldoze access roads into pristine rainforest to extract timber. Peasant families follow the roads into the jungle in a desperate search for land and livelihood they clear the forest to grow subsistence crops, cutting down all the trees and burning them and using the ashes as fertilizer. After just three or four harvest, inset plagues, weeds and soil impoverishment force to move on and repeat the cycle in undisturbed areas.

Forest: Source of life:

The world depends largely in forest either directly or indirectly. Losing forest completely will affect climates, undermine future economic development and threaten social and political stability of countries. Below are some environmental benefits of forest.

Environmental benefits of forest.

Results: Impact of Logging Forest

Loss of Biodiversity:

The most important conservation impact of logging forest is the attendant loss of biological and genetic diversity. It is quite clear, felling substantial areas of forest will result in loss of species. The detrimental effect of logging, which has been underestimated, for sometime has become, according to most studies, concentrated on the larger and more obvious species, such as mammals, birds and flowering plants. Although these groups are likely to suffer decline after felling, effects are often partial and confusing with certain species showing at least short term increase. This has blunted "the conservationist" response to forest loss for many years. The impact on invertebrates, lower plants and microscopic life forms is far more significant but has generally still not been assessed and often goes unrecognized.

Plants and animals vanish with the forest. A typical 1000-hectares patch of tropical moist forest contains as many as 1,500 species of flowering plants, up to 750 species of trees, 400 birds species, 150 kinds of butterflies, 100 different types of reptile and 60 species of amphibians, the insects are too numerous to count.

Mature tropical forest cover only about 7 percent (%) of the earth's surface, but harbor perhaps half of all its species, most of them as yet under covered. Clearing them may drive a million or more species extinction in the 21st century. The loss of even one species diminished the whole of humanity, for it is a storehouse of genetic resources. All civilization have been built in the diversity, since crops and investment were first developed from the wild, and we are still dependent on it for food, medicines and industrial raw materials. Crop breeders increasingly rely on wild strains to improve domesticated varieties and safeguard them against diseases a wild coffee from Ethiopia's fast disappearing forest, for example was used to save plantation through Latin America from devastation and several national economies from disaster. Half of all the medicine presented world wide is originally described from wild products, and the United States National Cancer Institute has identified more than 2000 tropical rainforest plants with potential to fight cancer. Miracle wait in the rainforest to be discovered even for the possible cure for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids). Yet they are being destroyed on a daily basis.

Discussion Of Results

Logging and wild birds:

The effect of forest felling or deforestation on large animals is not necessary the best available indicator of impacts on biodiversity. The impact of logging on birds is used as an example. Indeed, although the International Council on bird preservation has already claimed that birds are good indicators of level of biodiversity, (Bibby et al 1992).

The result of study on the response of birds and mammals to single tree selection in logging in Idaho found that most species experience little numerical change - some increased a few, particularly foraging birds relying on bark, decline (Medium and Booth 1989). Similar study in logged areas of northern Montana found that fly catchers, ground foragers and ground nesters increased in logged areas, where as foliage foraging birds, tree gleaner and those forms of woodland land management in United kingdom which results in loss of understorey, favour species such as the wood warbler (Phylloscopussibilatrix) although overall biodiversity in terms of plants, invertebrates etc has certainly declined.

On the other hand, species that are reliant on old growth forest are badly affected and threatened by logging practices. In north America, these includes such species as the Spotted Own (Strix occidentis), Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphusmarmatum), Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopuspileatus), Dendrocygnaarborea which requires old growth habitants for nesting sites and have something of a cause celebre (wilderness society 1988). Other north American bird as above that have also suffered threat from logging as shown in table 2.0 include the red-cockaded wood pecker (Picardesbosealis). This bird has declined due to destruction of mature pine forest and the America peregrim falcon (Falcoperegrinusanatum)(IUCN 1979).

The table 1.0 also shows that birds are declining elsewhere as a result of forest destruction (logging). In Asia, one of the many birds threatened in the uplands of the Indian subcontinent is the Heptotilosdubius. It is categorized as endangered because its population is between seven to eight hundred while still declining. In Algeria, the Kabylian muthatch (Sittalodarte) is extremely rate and limited to a relic mountain forest. In Europe, a number of species requiring mature forest have decline due to old growth forest including the black stork (Ciconianigra), caper cuille (Tetraourogallons) and several wood peckers.

Three categories of threat is outlined in the table 1.0. Those birds with a population less than 50 are marked Critical (CR) while those above 50 to 250 are labeled Endangered (EN). Vulnerable (VU) is used to described birds whose population is above a thousand.

In general, many birds in the temperate forest face a number of danger from logging activities.

Table 1.0: List of Endangered plants or globally threatened species due to logging activities


Names of species




Categorization of threat status



























Forest, sea














Japan, Taiwan










Forest, wetland


Russia, china


















Sao Tome






Vietnam, Laos






Laos, Commb












USA, Caribbean






Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia


















Papua New Guinea


Source: Birdlife Institute

Logging and large mammals.

Similar effects can be found among species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Analysis shows that the populations of deer, elk, gorillas, which have previously been assumed to be benefit from open spaces created by clearfelling, are likely to suffer declines as the old growth is destroyed, not least because they will no longer have to cover from hunters. Particular fear have been expressed about the future of the Columbia white tailed deer areas and about the Roosevelt Ekk (Dublin and Koberstein 1990).

The clouded leopard (Neofelisnebulosa) found in south east Asia, vine snake (Thelofomiskirtlandic) in west Africa, the white lipped peccary (Tayasstupecare) in south America and the Okapi (Okpacjohstone) in west Africa are all found in forest floors and understorey habitants of the rain and tropical forest. These animals face extinction as a result of the vast logging activities taking place in their habitats. The stubble habitat created by the old growth forest provides benefits for species not directly dependent on the habitant itself (Wilcove 1988). For example, the decline of many salmon species shown has been linked, in part, with logging in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the subsequent in water quality. The role of logging in fish decline received official recognition in November 1991 when the sockeye salmon was registered as an endangered specie in the region. This followed representation from tied biologists that logging and road building practices were incompatible with the continued survival of healthy fish population.

Logging, Plants and Other Species

It is acknowledged that the composition of fungi change dramatically after clear felling and it is not known if old growth dependent species will ever return (Denison 1990). Many fungi are small and difficult to record. One that is not is the most noble Polyporeoxyporusnobilissinus, which is probably the world's largest fungus, the biggest specimen known weighing 136 kilogram (kg) and measuring 1.4 meter (M) across. Only four or five specimens of this fungus have been found and it is believe to be entirely confirmed to the entire forest of pacific northwest (Trappe 1995).

Plants found in both rain and tropic forests are African mahogany, Balsa, Teaks (timbers), rattans, jute, bamboo (fibres and canes), Swiss cheese plant, India rubber plant, silhouette, ura plant, mother-in-laws tongue, zebra plants etc. Most of these plants provide us hardwoods, rubber, chewing gum, fruit drinks, species, flowers and other desirable products. The impact caused by logging activities on the Theobromacacao, a cocoa species caused an increase in price in the region. Many plants products derived from the forest are very important to us.


People are causing the extinction crisis we have a responsibility address the causes of environmental change so that future generations can rely on the vital services provided by the world's ecosystem through forest preservation.

A tree planning program should be launched to increase the forest area, while another law cut down the population of goats. One of the great destroyers of land - by four fifths and restrict them to stalls where they do not damage.

Government should give every village a patch of forest to manage as its own responsibility. This is an effective way of preserving forests, for if villagers own the trees around them they usually manage them well, so as to preserve their benefits for future. In Nepal, the hill people managed to conserve their trees and soil, despite rapid population growth, until the late 1950s, by voluntarily restricting felling and grazing in the forests, which had always belonged to them. When the Nepalese government nationalized the forests, the people no longer felt responsible for them, and the cycle of destruction began.

In recent years, saving what remains of the world's rain forests has become an international cause. Governments, International Organizations and Citizens groups are paying increasing attention. Many initiatives have been launched and including actions plans, and debt-swap deals under which countries protect particular rainforests areas in return for alleviation of some of their foreign debt. But no plan will succeed if it simply seeks to preserve the rainforests. Third World Nations, deep in financial crisis, will have no interest in saving the forest unless they can be shown that it pays.

Recent studies have shown that traditional non-destructive uses of the rain forests, like tapping rubber and agroforestry, achieve much higher economic returns then logging, slash-burn agriculture or cattle ranching. The Lacandon maya Indians of Chiapas, Mexico, for example, practice a high efficient form of traditional agro forestry, using a multi-layered cropping system which permits them to cultivate up to 75 crop species on single hectare plots for up to seven consecutive years. With skilled husbandry of the forests resources, one lancandon farmer will clear no more than 10 hectares of rain forest during his lifetime.

The following are some solutions that could help to protect our forest and species from extinction.


The global timber trade is currently in a transition period between logging forests and cutting plantations or intensively managed forests. The damage that the timber industry could do to the remaining old growth and native forest resources during the transition period between logging private forest and good management is probably the single most important temperate and tropic conservation issue at hand.

No doubt, from the content of the paper with the relevant data and statistics given a great impact is done on the world forest which affects its rich products- in pharmaceuticals, water shed protection, carbon regulation, soil stability, flood control, habitat for species, biodiversity which are all source of life to man either directly or indirectly.

The result of these impact is that the next few years could well see a catastrophic loss of many of the world's remaining natural forest areas and their replacement with exotic tree plantation or their degradation into scrub or sub-standard re-growth. Further more, the method logging used are themselves causing serious environmental problem both inside and outside the forest.


1. Birdlife International, 1998. Threatened birds of the wood, Lynx editions, Spain 851pg.

2. Diamond A.W., and T.E. Lovejoy, 1985. Conservation of tropical birds, International Council for Bird Preservation (Technical publication No.4), P18p.

4. Nigel Dudley, 1998. Forest in trouble, World Wide Fund Publication, Switzerland, 260pg

1 Address: No. 48, Itolo Street, Off Eric-Moore Road
Surulere, Lagos State,
Tel. No.: 234-1-8037229794
e-mail: [email protected]