UK: Researchers from Imperial College London developed a map of timber prices. They claimed that it could be used to model regional vulnerability to deforestation across the Amazon rainforest. Sadia Ahmed and Robert Ewers, both of Imperial College London, carried out the study and believe that the findings can provide a method for predicting future deforestation patterns in the region.
Ahmed and Ewers explained that the link between timber values and deforestation patterns is related to road networks in the Amazon. They said, “The spatial patterns of deforestation are determined largely by the patterns of roads that open access to frontier areas and expansion of the road network in the Amazon is largely determined by profit seeking logging activities.”
In other words, the higher the price loggers can expect to receive for the timber of a certain tree, the more likely they are to target areas of forest where that genus is most abundant, building roads along the way.
A previous study found a high correlation between deforestation and road networks, with almost all logging taking place within 25km of roads.
Ahmed and Ewers hope that conservationists will be able to use the map to locate high value areas and thus determine where loggers are most likely to build new roads – allowing them to focus their efforts on vulnerable regions before deforestation takes place.