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Deforestation and timber production in Congo after implementation of sustainable management policy

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This viewpoint paper presents a reaction to the article by Brandt et al. (2016). It highlights the complexities inherent to the attribution of deforestation impacts to policy interventions when using remote-sensing data. This critique argues that in the context of the Congo a suite of factors (i.e., population density in particular) other than those considered by Brandt et al. (e.g., type of forest, distance from roads and markets) play essential roles in determining the fates of forests. It also contends that care is needed when making decisions regarding which units will be included in the comparison group so that contextual factors and on-the-ground information are properly considered (e.g., when logging operations are inactive or when a concession is used for 'conservation' purposes). Finally, it proposes that a focus on an analysis of deforestation rates for a given level of timber production might be a metric that more accurately represents one aspect of the consequences of forest management, which should also consider the appraisal of trade-offs associated with a larger set of social, financial and ecological objectives.

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