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Impacts of Unsustainable Mahogany Logging in Bolivia and Peru

Roberto F Kometter, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina
Martha Martinez, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International
Arthur G Blundell, EGAT Forest Team, USAID
Raymond E Gullison, Hardner & Gullison Associates
Marc K Steininger, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International
Richard E Rice, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International

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Abstract

Although bigleaf mahogany [Swietenia macrophylla King (Meliaceae)] is the premier timber species of Latin America, its exploitation is unsustainable because of a pattern of local depletion and shifting supply. We surveyed experts on the status of mahogany in Bolivia and Peru, the world's past and present largest exporters. Bolivia no longer has commercially viable mahogany (trees > 60 cm diameter at breast height) across 79% of its range. In Peru, mahogany's range has shrunk by 50%, and, within a decade, a further 28% will be logged out. Approximately 15% of the mahogany range in these two countries is protected, but low densities and illegal logging mean that this overestimates the extent of mahogany under protection. The international community can support mahogany conservation by funding park management and by encouraging independent verification of the legality of mahogany in trade. Our findings demonstrate that a systematic expert survey can generate reliable and cost-effective information on the status of widespread species of concern and help to inform appropriate management policy.

Key words

Bolivia, Latin America, Peru, expert survey, forest conservation, forest inventories, forest regeneration, mahogany, protected areas, questionnaire, range, sustainable forestry
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087