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Human impacts on forest biodiversity in protected walnut-fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan

Cantarello, E., Lovegrove, A., Orozumbekov, A., Birch, J., Brouwers, N. and Newton, A.C. (2014) Human impacts on forest biodiversity in protected walnut-fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 33 (5). pp. 454-481.

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We used a spatially explicit model of forest dynamics, supported by empirical field data and socioeconomic data, to examine the impacts of human disturbances on a protected forest landscape in Kyrgyzstan. Local use of 27 fruit and nut species was recorded and modeled. Results indicated that in the presence of fuelwood cutting with or without grazing, species of high socioeconomic importance such as Juglans regia, Malus spp., and Armeniaca vulgaris were largely eliminated from the landscape after 50-150 yr. In the absence of disturbance or in the presence of grazing only, decline of these species occurred at a much lower rate, owing to competitive interactions between tree species. This suggests that the current intensity of fuelwood harvesting is not sustainable. Conversely, current grazing intensities were found to have relatively little impact on forest structure and composition, and could potentially play a positive role in supporting regeneration of tree species. These results indicate that both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity can arise from human populations living within a protected area. Potentially, these could be reconciled through the development of participatory approaches to conservation management within this reserve, to ensure the maintenance of its high conservation value while meeting human needs.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Ltd.
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