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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Commercial harvesting of Ficus timber - An emerging threat to frugivorous wildlife and sustainable forestry

Felton, Annika; Felton, Adam; Rumiz, Damian; Villaroel, Nelly; Chapman, Colin; Lindenmayer, David, B.


There is an extensive ecological literature documenting the importance of fig trees (Ficus spp.) as providers of food and other resources for many tropical animals. What is less apparent is that some Fic-us species form free-standing stems that are targeted in logging operations. Despite the potential implications of such harvesting for biological conservation, the existence of this market has largely gone unrecognized by ecologists and conservation biologists. Here we describe the extent of this market in the Neotropics and discuss its implications for wildlife conservation and sustainable forestry. We find that large-scale commercial harvesting of Ficus timber primarily occurs in Bolivia, although some logging concessions in Peru and Brazil also harvest trees from this genus. Annually extracted volumes increased after records began being collected in Bolivia in 1998, peaked in 2005-2007 at approximately 34000 m(3)/year, but are currently relatively low, partly due to the effects of the global financial down-turn of 2008-2009. We suggest that this presents an opportunity to re-assess current Ficus harvesting policies before further market expansion and harvest intensification could occur. We emphasize that because selective logging maintains tree species composition, structure, and disturbance regimes to a much greater extent than forest-converting land-use alternatives, it is important that opportunities to ensure ecologically sustainable forest management are identified and acted upon. We therefore call on forest ecologists, certification agencies, and conservation biologists to engage with the issue of commercial scale harvesting of Ficus. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ficus; Figs; Frugivores; Selective logging; Timber extraction

Published in

Biological Conservation
2013, Volume: 159, pages: 96-100

    SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG15 Life on land
      SDG2 Zero hunger
      SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences

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