Appropriate cutting cycles and annual allowable cuts are crucial to ensure sustainability of tropical selective logging, but there have been limited field data to verify long-term effects of different cutting cycles. This study reveals some evidence of forest degradation in selectively logged production forests of Myanmar, which are subject to inappropriate cutting frequency. We compared stand structure, commercial species composition, and incidence of illegal logging between two compartments with low (LCF; 1 time) and high (HCF; 5 times) cutting frequency over a recent 18 years. Prior to the latest cutting, LCF had 176 trees ha-1 with an inverted-J shape distribution of diameter at breast height (DBH), including a substantial amount of teak (Tectona grandis) and other commercially important species in each DBH class. HCF prior to the latest cut had only 41 trees ha-1 without many commercially important species. At HCF, nearly half the standing trees of various species and size were illegally cut following legal operations; this was for charcoal making in nearby kilns. At LCF, two species, teak and Xylia xylocarpa, were cut illegally and sawn for timber on the spot. More extensive and systematic surveys are needed to generalize the findings of forest degradation and illegal logging. However, our study calls for urgent reconsideration of logging practices with high cutting frequency, which can greatly degrade forests with accompanying illegal logging, and for rehabilitating strongly degraded, bamboo-dominated forests. To reduce illegal logging, it would be important to pay more attention on a MSS regulation stating that logging roads should be destroyed after logging operations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation