Groundbreaking study confirms FSC standards are vital for thriving wildlife in tropical forests

A new study reveals compelling evidence that forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) in Gabon and the Republic of Congo harbour a higher abundance of larger mammals and critically endangered species, such as gorillas and elephants, compared to non-FSC certified forests. The research was led by Utrecht University with support from WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and was published in Nature on 10 April 2024. It underscores the effectiveness of measures implemented in FSC-certified forest concessions to safeguard wildlife.

By meticulously counting individual animals and strategically positioning camera traps, the research conducted by Joeri Zwerts confirmed that certified concessions notably harbor a larger population of large mammals – 2.7 times more for mammals over 100 kg, such as gorillas and forests elephants, and 2.5 times more for mammals from 30–100 kg, such as leopards and chimpanzees – when compared to non-FSC-certified areas.

In addition, the encounter rates observed of large mammals in FSC-certified forests were comparable to published data from recently monitored protected areas in the Congo Basin region.

On the other hand, the number of smaller mammals observed was similar between FSC- and non-FSC certified concessions – as large mammals are usually the first species to disappear due to poaching and hunting – painting a picture of less biodiversity due to unsustainable forest practices in the latter forests. The effects were similar in both the Republic of Congo and Gabon.
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