Preliminary results from eDNA pilot study conducted in Gabon confirm conservation value of FSC-managed forests for biodiversity; so far, many species have been found and in greater abundance compared to non-FSC-managed forests

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December 12, 2023 (press release) –

Preliminary results from eDNA pilot study conducted in Gabon confirm the conservation value of FSC managed forests for biodiversity. So far, many species have found and in greater abundance compared to non-FSC managed forests.

The analysis revealed the presence of species such as the african forest elephant, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, and the Leopard. We have also detected more cryptic threatened mammal species in FSC-certified forests, such as two species of Pangolins, the elusive Potamogale (Potamogale velox), the African Palm Civet (Nandinia binotata), and the Cameroon anomalure (Zenkerella insignis).

Healthy forests are more than just trees, but the unique ecosystems in which they thrive comprising fungi, fauna, mammals and more. To build resilience of forests, we also need to protect the biodiversity within these forest area ecosystems. FSC standards are developed to ensure that FSC-certified forests protect and strengthen forest ecosystems as a whole, including enhancing areas with High Conservation Values for biodiversity. These include rare, threatened, or endangered species and habitats, and critical ecosystem services. FSC has embarked on complementing its standards with a robust monitoring and evaluation system to prove the benefits of certification on forest ecosystems. To that end, we are conducting field-based impact evaluations with experts and researchers to explore the effects of FSC requirements.

eDNA study in Gabon

In Gabon, FSC-certified forest management has strict requirements for the management of watercourses and their crossing, which influences soil erosion and water sedimentation and could in turn impact water quality and sediments and its associated biodiversity. Also, FSC requires good management of bushmeat hunting we could benefit communities of large mammals.

A study was conducted analyzing eDNA results to compare biodiversity in two FSC-certified with two neighboring non-certified forest concessions in Gabon. The analysis looked for the number of identified species* as well as their abundance, where the more species the richer the diversity.

We are exploring the use of modern technologies to implement robust and effective monitoring and evaluation activities at scale, such as eDNA. We have therefore tested this tool in our project in Gabon to explore its potential in the FSC system. We analysed the presence of insects, vertebrates, fish, amphibians and mammals using eDNA samples collected in the forests.

Environmental DNA (eDNA)

Environmental DNA is a tool to conduct biodiversity assessments where samples of the ecosystem are gathered and sent to lab to confirm the existence and amount of organisms in the area. eDNA is a cost-effective, robust and easily replicable technology to monitor biodiversity. It detects the DNA traces left by living organisms in the environment. These very discrete species such as the pangolin are rarely found using other scientific inventory techniques, resulting in an underestimated presence of the species. With tools like eDNA, it is easier to locate their presence more accurately.

What next?

FSC is convinced of the need to monitor impacts of certification. Biodiversity is a key element of a healthy forest, thus important impact of responsible forest stewardship. Using eDNA has proven to be an effective tool to measure biodiversity within forest concessions. Additionally, extracting eDNA samples is relatively easy and forest managers can be empowered to monitor their own forests more actively. More research and studies are undoubtedly needed to increase understanding of impacts and causes to continue offering the most extensive biodiversity protections in commercial forestry.

Want to learn more?

We have a podcast out about FSC and eDNA!

🎙Find the podcast here 🎙

* molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTU)

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Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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