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Over-harvesting driven by consumer demand leads to population decline: big-leaf mahogany in South AmericaAuthor(s): James Grogan; Arthur G. Blundell; R. Matthew Landis; Ani Youatt; Raymond E. Gullison; Martha Martinez; Roberto Kometter; Marco Lentini; Richard E. Rice
Source: Conservation Letters. 3(1): 12-20
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: International Institute of Tropical Forestry
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DescriptionConsumer demand for the premier neotropical luxury timber, big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), has driven boom-and-bust logging cycles for centuries, depleting local and regional supplies from Mexico to Bolivia. We revise the standard historic range map for mahogany in South America and estimate the extent to which commercial stocks have been depleted using satellite data, expert surveys, and sawmill processing center data from Brazil. We estimate an historic range of 278 million hectares spanning Venezuela to Bolivia, 57% of this in Brazil. Approximately 58 million hectares (21%) of mahogany’s historic range had been lost to forest conversion by 2001. Commercial populations had been logged from at least 125 million more hectares, reducing the commercial range to 94 million hectares (34% of historic). Surviving stocks are extremely low-density populations in remote regions representing a smaller fraction of historic stocks than expected based on estimated current commercial range. Our method could advance international policy debates such as listing proposals for CITES Appendices by clarifying the commercial and conservation status of high-value timber species similar to mahogany about which little information is available. The fate of remaining mahogany stocks in South America will depend on transforming current forest management practices into sustainable production systems.
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CitationGrogan, James; Blundell, Arthur G.; Landis, R. Matthew; Youatt, Ani; Gullison, Raymond E.; Martinez, Martha; Kometter, Roberto; Lentini, Marco; Rice, Richard E. 2010. Over-harvesting driven by consumer demand leads to population decline: big-leaf mahogany in South America. Conservation Letters. 3(1): 12-20.
KeywordsCITES, illegal logging, Lacey Act, Peru–U.S. Free Trade Agreement, renewable natural resources, sustainable forest management
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