Zoning of timber extraction in the Brazilian Amazon

Adalberto Veríssimo, Carlos Souza, Steve Stone, Christopher Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The state of Para (1,248,042 km2), in eastern Amazonia, produces 65% of Brazil's roundwood. Logging is now spreading across this state in an unplanned and unregulated fashion. Using a geographic information system (GIS), we combined and analyzed spatial information on forest cover, legal land classification, log processing industries, biodiversity, and infrastructure for the entire state. We first used this GIS, in combination with economic data, to analyze the spread of logging activities in Para. We found that in the mid-1990s, the potential already existed (in economic terms) to harvest timber from 80% of Para's forested lands: 21% of Para's forest was accessible for harvest of all commercial species, including those of low value; an additional 30% was accessible for logging a select group of medium-value species; and a final 29% of the state's forest was accessible for the logging of mahogany, a high-value species. Although 29% of Para's lands are legally protected from logging, protection is weak: almost three-quarters of these 'protected' lands fall within the zone in which timber can now be profitably harvested. We also used the GIS to develop a rationale for zoning where logging might be permitted, as well as prohibited, in Para. First, we noted that 19% of the state contained lands without timber (12% deforested, 6.3% nonforest vegetation types, and 0.7% water). The land that we designate for logging, based both on economic and conservation considerations, would be approximately 32% (400,000 km2) of the state. This would include areas where logging is already underway (24%), production reserves and buffer ares (3%), and remote areas with no conservation restrictions (5%). We propose that the remaining area (49%, or 611,540 km2) be protected from logging, at least for the time being. These lands include forested areas where logging is already 'officially' prohibited (28% of Para) as well as nonprotected areas with a high conservation priority (21%) (i.e., areas that are especially rich in biodiversity).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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