Logging can trigger damaging effects on forest structure and forest composition Logging can lead to damaging killing or changing the residual stand which can results in the potential depletion of seed sources and reproductive trees and also causes soil and water catchments disturbances All these effects can significantly alter the forest composition and structure and influences the ecological processes which play an important role in the establishment of seedlings and regeneration of the stand Cannon et al 1994 Controlled Logging is necessary to minimize the damage to the remaining stand to acceptable level which is of great importance to ensure the natural regeneration of the desired commercial species Webb 1997 and achieving Sustainable Forest Management SFM Pinard and Putz 1996 Reduced impact logging RIL has been promoted as one of the important drivers for achieving SFM and seen as the sustainable alternative to conventional logging CL Relatively there are only a few studies that have examined the effect of both logging systems on forest ecosystems
The use of the RIL method incorporates the implementation of harvesting techniques to minimize the damage on forest ecosystem which includes activities such as detailed planning for tree inventory and mapping road construction skid trails and felling techniques This differ to the CL method where logging activities is executed without any form of detailed planning or the implementation of harvesting techniques to minimize the damage on the forest ecosystem The use of RIL method is expected to minimize the damage to the residual stand limit soil disturbance by heavy equipment minimize negative impact on wildlife Sist et al 1998 2003 Elias et al 2001 Bertault and Sist 1997 and to maintain critical ecosystem processes Castro Arellano et al 2007 In practice this is not always the case Studies have shown that tropical forests are increasingly impacted by both logging techniques which have resulted in the alternation of the composition and the structure of the forest ecosystem Fearnside 1997 Thiollay 1997 Verissimo et al 1992 Uhl et al 1979
But other studies showed that RIL is less damaging to the forest ecosystem in contrast with CL Johns et al 1996 and can reduced damage to the stand by at least 30 50 Pinard and Putz 1996 Bertault and Sist 1997 Other studies have showed also that RIL reduce the tree mortality by up to 27 and the total canopy gap fracture by 43 Johns et al 1996 Pinard and Putz 1996 Stem damage tend to be up to 15 times higher when using CL compared to RIL Putz et al 2008 Pinard and Putz 1996 Johns 1988 Similar results were also found in other studies where CL results in higher stem damage compared to RIL Boltz et al 2003 Logging causes canopy gaps of different sizes which can lead to changes in microclimate conditions Minckler et al 1973 Vitousek and Sanford 1986 and can also influences the nutrient cycling Schulz 1960 Canopy gaps induce the increase of light availability on the forest floor which is one of the crucial factors for the growth and establishment of seedlings and saplings Cannon et al 1994 and can provide adequate environmental conditions and high availability for resources for the growth and survival of natural regeneration Denslow 1980 Generally canopy gaps are presumed to be crucial to maintain the high biodiversity of tropical rainforest Brokaw 1985 The natural regeneration of many species is gap size dependent Shulze 1960 Swaine and Whitmore 1988 Increased gap size may stimulate the growth and colonization of light demanding species which can also stimulate the growth of non commercial species
The colonization of non commercial species can suppress the sufficient regeneration of commercial timber species Vieira 1995 Mostacedo and Fredrericksen 1999 which can lead to lower timber yields for future cutting cycles There are other factors that can influence the regeneration such as the effects of logging machine used on the soil conditions and the degree of damage to the remaining stand Johns et al 1996 reduced abundance of seed trees after logging Frederickson and Licona 2000 harvesting intensity competition of vines Zimmerman and Kormos 2012 and availability of nutrients Litterfall plays an important role in the nutrient dynamics of plant communities Logging can decreases the amount of litter and nutrients contained in the litterfall due to the gaps that are created by logging Thomas 1999 and the removal of the tree that produces the litter The less availability of nutrients could jeopardize the regeneration in the gaps In the study of Facelli and Carson 1991 the increase of litter aligns with the course of succession which define that mature old growth forest have the greatest amount of litter The felling and skidding process in logging cause more damage and disturbance in the very short term compared to other logging processes These processes damage understory vegetation Whitman et al 1997 disturbs the litter and soil and increases the size of the gaps Johns et al 1996
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