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Biodiversity: Our Impacts

Around the world, wildlife is threatened by human encroachment into sensitive forest habitats. Since 1992, tropical biodiversity has declined by 30 percent1. Illegal logging, agricultural expansion and reckless tourism can spell disaster for great apes, elephants and other large mammals as well as songbirds, amphibians and reptiles.

But the farms, forests and tourism businesses with which we work are helping to ensure that rare and endangered species are shielded from habitat destruction, poaching and other serious threats. These businesses monitor wildlife populations on their land and take steps to safeguard and restore the natural areas that sustain these species.

Forest Stewardship Council– (FSC-) Certified Forests Protect Great Apes and Other Mammals

By using environmentally sensitive logging techniques, monitoring hunting activities, conserving nesting areas and fruit-bearing trees and adhering to laws that safeguard endangered species, FSC-certified forestry enterprises do a better job of protecting great apes and other mammals than noncertified ones:

  • Great ape densities were found to be higher2 in FSC-certified forests (and those in the process of getting certified) than in other forestry concessions.
  • A study of seven timber companies in Gabon3 found that FSC-certified companies offered greater protection to wildlife, implementing 86 percent of best practices while noncertified companies implemented only 29 percent.
  • In Cameroon, mammal density on FSC-certified enterprises or those in the process of getting certified was higher than in forestry businesses that were not pursuing certification4.
  • In certified forestry concessions within Malaysia’s Deramakot Forest Reserve, mammal populations were similar to those in protected areas5, and these certified concessions had even greater numbers of some large mammals than surrounding reserves.

Certification Criteria on Dead Wood Safeguards Wildlife

In Vermont, FSC-certified forests contained a significantly higher volume of standing and downed dead wood after logging than non-certified forests6. Twenty percent of the wildlife species that rely on dead wood are rare, vulnerable or endangered7, and nearly all types of animals thrive in areas with abundant dead wood -- a source of habitat as well as nutrients for soil health and forest regeneration.

Shifting Attitudes Toward Wildlife Protection

Water Protection

  • In the Brazilian state of Acre, the adoption of FSC criteria by community forestry enterprises has not only created wildlife corridors and conserved ecologically sensitive areas; it has also helped to cultivate a culture of conservation and respect for wildlife among community members.8
  • In a survey of 14 verified tourism enterprises in five countries, all of them stated that their conservation activities -- including the prohibition of threats to native plants and animals -- were critical to improving the quality of their guests’ experience. The Tambopata Research Center, a Rainforest Alliance Verified lodge located in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, offers a vibrant example of how wildlife protection can enhance a tourist’s visit.

The Environmental Benefits of Our Work:

  1. United Nations Environment Programme, Keeping Track of our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20 (1992-2012),

  2. Arnold Van Krevold and Ingrid Roerhorst, Great Apes and Logging, World Wildlife Federation (WWF) report, 2009,

  3. Tim Rayden and Rawlings Essame Essono. Evaluation of the management of wildlife in the forestry concessions around the national parks of Lope, Waka and Ivindo, Gabon. Wildlife Conservation Society. 2010.

  4. Zacharie Nzooh Dongmo, Leonard Usongo, Jeff Sayer and Eduardo Mansur. “Managing Production Forests for Biodiversity.” Nature and Fauna 23, no. 1 (2008): 16–21.

  5. Sam, Mannan, K. Kitayama, Y. F. Lee, A. Chung, A Radin and P. Lagan. “RIL for biodiversity conservation and carbon conservation – Deramakot forest shows positive conservation impacts of reduced impact logging.” ITTO tropical forest update 18/2, pp. 7-9. 2008.

  6. Bryan C. Foster, Deane Wang and William S. Keeton. A Post-Harvest Comparison Of Structure And Economic Value In FSC-Certified And Uncertified Northern Hardwood Stands. Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 2006.

  7. World Wildlife Fund, Deadwood -- Living Forests: The Importance of Veteran Trees and Deadwood to Biodiversity, report, 2004.

  8. Imaflora, Does Certification Make a Difference? Impact Assessment Study On FSC/SAN Certification In Brazil, 2009.

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