[Coral-List] New paper on logging impacts on reefs

Amelia Wenger amelia.wenger at gmail.com
Wed Sep 23 23:20:22 UTC 2020

Dear colleagues,

I would like to share with you our new paper out in Journal of Applied
Ecology entitled "Best‐practice forestry management delivers diminishing
returns for coral reefs with increased land‐clearing" found here and free
to read for a limited time:

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.



Abstract: Protection of coastal ecosystems from deforestation may be the
best way to protect coral reefs from sediment runoff. However, given the
importance of generating economic activities for coastal livelihoods, the
prohibition of development is often not feasible. In light of this, logging
codes of practice have been developed to mitigate the impacts of logging on
downstream ecosystems. However, no studies have assessed whether managed
land‐clearing can occur in tandem with coral reef conservation goals.

This study quantifies the impacts of current land use and the risk of
potential logging activities on downstream coral reef condition and
fisheries using a novel suite of linked land‐sea models, using Kolombangara
Island in the Solomon Islands as a case study. Further, we examine the
ability of erosion reduction strategies stipulated in logging codes of
practice to reduce these impacts as clearing extent increases.

We found that with present‐day land use, reductions in live and branching
coral cover and increases in turf algae were associated with exposure to
sediment runoff from catchments and log ponds. Critically, reductions in
fish grazer abundance and biomass were associated with increasing sediment
runoff, a functional group that accounts for ~25% of subsistence fishing.
At low clearing extents, although best management practices minimize the
exposure of coral reefs to increased runoff, it would still result in 32%
of the reef experiencing an increase in sediment exposure. If clearing
extent increased, best management practices would have no impact, with a
staggering 89% of coral reef area at risk compared to logging with no

Synthesis and applications. Assessing trade‐offs between coastal
development and protection of marine resources is a challenge for decision
makers globally. Although development activities requiring clearing can be
important for livelihoods, our results demonstrate that new logging in
intact forest risks downstream resources important for both food and
livelihood security. Importantly, our approach allows for spatially
explicit recommendations for where terrestrial management might best
complement marine management. Finally, given the critical degradation
feedback loops that increased sediment runoff can reinforce on coral reefs,
minimizing sediment runoff could play an important role in helping coral
reefs recover from climate‐related disturbances.

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