The scientific studies we review in our paper (Zimmerman and Kormos 2012) conclude unanimously that logging in tropical forests under presently mandated protocols leads to depletion of high-value timber stocks, thereby setting logged forests on a globally well documented course to clearing as land value shifts from timber to agriculture. We agree with Sist and colleagues (2011) that near-sustainable logging of natural forests is technically feasible, albeit only with substantial financial subsidy. We also agree that logged forest supports more biodiversity than cattle pasture or oil palm. We diverge, however, in our opinion on what should be done with this information to achieve the objective of conserving the world's highly threatened tropical forests.
Putz and colleagues (2012) maintain that if best practices were implemented using REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) subsidy and connected to certification programs, industrial logging could help conserve tropical forests. We concur that this might be the case in a perfect world where pressure to convert forests to high-value industrial agriculture is not as high and where laws are enforced and corruption is not a factor. However, none of the national owners of the world's remaining large blocks of tropical forest have shown significant capacity to enforce laws regulating the use of their forests. For example, in one of the world's most extensive logging frontiers and one that has received a huge amount of international support for regulation and in a country with high technical capacity (the Brazilian Amazon), illegal logging remains rampant. Adding REDD+ subsidy to the logging industry in regions of weak governance will hasten the high grading and destruction of these forests. We contend that the sole solution is to use REDD+ subsidy for replicating successful models of conservation including community-level forest management for timber and nontimber products and for protected areas.
Community management is not a panacea, but the only examples of successfully managed tropical production forest are found with local communities, and the correlates of sustainable management of common pool resources by communities are known. In contrast, we do not know of any tract of tropical forest surviving long term under industrial logging.