While logging can be carried out in a manner that reduces damage to the environment, most logging in the rainforest is very destructive. Large trees are cut down and dragged through the forest, while access roads open up remote forest areas to agriculture by poor farmers. In Africa logging workers often rely on “bushmeat” for protein. They hunt wildlife like gorillas, deer, and chimpanzees for food.
Research has found that the number of species found in logged rainforest is much lower than the number found in untouched or “primary” rainforest. Many rainforest animals cannot survive in the changed environment.
Local people often rely on harvesting wood from rainforests for firewood and building materials. In the past such practices were not particularly damaging to the ecosystem because there were relatively few people. Today, however, in areas with large human populations the sheer number of people collecting wood from a rainforest can be extremely damaging. In the 1990s, for example, the forests around the refugee camps in Central Africa (Rwanda and Congo) were virtually stripped of all trees in some areas.
By Rhett Butler
Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: December 5, 2015