Rare Leopard Thrives in Forest Sustainably Logged for Timber

The Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) is so rare that scientists estimate only 700 exist in the wild. At least some of these appear to be thriving in forests logged for timber. A mother and her two cubs were recently captured on camera in the Deramakot Forest Reserve in Borneo. In fact, the Reserve is home to five Bornean cat species making it one of the few places in Borneo with confirmed records of all five species.

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The Bornean clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi). Credit: Jackie Lover / Naturetrek

What is a Commercial Forest Reserve?

The Deramakot Forest Reserve is a commercial forest reserve managed for the sustainable production of low volume, high priced timber products. The current management plan allows for an annual cut of 17,800 cubic meters of timber. This translates to roughly 900 truckloads of logs per year. Commercial timber species include Selangan Batu (Shorea spp.) and Keruing (Dipterocarpus spp.), both used in household and industrial decking throughout the world.

How Does the Sale of Timber Help Conserve Forests?

The revenue generated from the sale of this timber is used to pay for the sustainable forest management of the Reserve. To pay for costs such as forest protection (aerial surveys), salaries, and forest certification (among other costs), the Reserve must produce at least 103,621 m3 of logs over the plan’s 10-year period. The higher the prices that global markets are willing to pay for tropical timber products, the lower the volume of logs required to sustain the management of the Reserve.

Logging Roads Enhance the Reserve’s Eco-tourism Value

Like the timber concessions of Peten, Guatemala, the Deramakot Forest Reserve of Borneo is a well-documented example of how timber markets help conserve forests. The harvest of timber creates cash flow, increasing the value of the forest relative to other non-forest land uses like agriculture and cattle ranching. It generates revenue to finance the operating costs of forest management. And logging operations can even add value to other non-timber income generating activities like eco-tourism by providing infrastructure.

“As the reserve is managed for sustainable forestry it has a well-maintained private road running through it, with smaller tracks branching off to the sides. It offers unrivalled scope for watching the nocturnal mammals of Borneo’s lowland forests.” – Naturetrek 2016

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