Timber Concessions More Effective in Conserving Forests than Protected Areas

Forest mapping technologies allow us to see where forest-based enterprises are good for forests.

For example, in the northern department of Petén, Guatemala (Figure 1) we can see tree cover loss from 2001 until 2015. Pink represents tree cover loss.


Figure 1. Deforestation in Peten, Guatemala. Source: Global Forest Watch


What’s noticeable in this map are two things:

1. Almost all of the deforestation occurred outside of commercial forest concessions. The large white area in Figure 1 (representing no tree cover loss) is largely made up of concessions that harvest forest products, including timber. These forest concessions are shown in Figure 2 (shaded polygons).

2. The National Parks of Laguna del Tigre and Sierra del Lacandón (located in the western boundary of the map) have significantly more tree cover loss than the forest concessions.


Figure 2. Map of forest concessions in northern Guatemala. Source: Radachowsky et al. 2012


In this case, we can see that forests managed for the commercial harvesting of forest products, including timber, can be more effective in preventing deforestation than protected areas.

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