Logging impact on Amazonian white-sand forests: perspectives from a sustainable development reserve

ABSTRACT Overexploitation is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss and local extinction. In the Brazilian Amazon, the intensive use of high-value timber species is leading to a decline in their populations. When in decline, these species can be replaced by less valuable and more common ones that are more feasible to exploit. We conducted interviews with residents of two communities in a sustainable development reserve in central Amazonia, and used free lists and the cognitive salience index (S) to assess the perceptions of residents regarding the occurrence and purpose of timber exploitation, and to identify possible endangered species in white-sand and terra-firme forests. In addition, to infer possible consequences of logging, we assessed the current population status of timber species cited by residents in forest-plot inventories carried out within the reserve. S-index values and interviewee reports suggested an intensive use of terra-firme timber species and an apparently recent increase in the exploitation of white-sand species, which did not use to be exploited because of their relatively low commercial value. The inventories showed that the white-sand timber species have high relative densities and low S values in contrast to the terra-firme species, which mostly have low relative densities and high S values. Our results highlight the need to identify and monitor relevant timber species in both terra-firme and white-sand forests, and to increase the involvement of the local community in the development of logging management practices.