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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Frogs take longer to recover after logging African forests – new research shows

Frogs require a minimum of twenty years to recover after logging African forests and maintaining the right conditions, shows findings of a novel research. 

Young Ghanaian scientist, Gilbert Baase Adum of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), led a team of international research scientists to undertake the study, which was recently published in Conservation Biology, the world’s leading academic journal in its field.

Logging has been a prime factor to the declining amphibian populations worldwide. Until this study, it remained largely unclear how long it takes frogs to recover to their former state after logging.

“In our study of three south-western Ghanaian commercially-logged forests, it took 10 years for non-forest dependent frogs to return to their former levels, and forest-dependent frogs decreased and did not recover until after 20 years of logging”, said Gilbert.

“But low logging intensity, remnant patches of intact forests retained in the landscape, and presence of permanent streams or rivers may have aided in the rapid recovery of frogs”.

The one-year study also recorded the highest number of Ghana’s Endangered Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua) since its discovery – 14 individual frogs were found.

The research scientists were from the KNUST (Ghana), the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom), Humboldt University (Germany) and the Zoological Society of London (United Kingdom).

This project received funding from UK DEFRA through the ZSL-Wildlife Wood Project, with additional funding provided by Trobenbos Ghana, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Student Conference on Conservation Science.

The authors see hope for the future of conservation in West African forests, observing that “some portion of the surviving wildlife can apparently recover when forests are subsequently left undisturbed”.

They have therefore called for the preservation of African logged forests alongside undisturbed forests.

Over 90% of Ghana’s rainforests have been destroyed and Ghana’s frogs are rapidly disappearing.

Gilbert’s Baase Adum, who is also the Executive Director of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana, emphasized the need for government and conservation agencies to collaborate with his NGO to protect Ghana's amphibian populations and to promote a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife.

The NGO has also advocated the establishment of Ghana’s sixth national park by turning the unprotected Atewa Forest Range Reserve into the Atewa Hills National Park.

The reserve has exceptionally high amphibian biodiversity and is home to an array of other wildlife species, but is under constant threat from bauxite mining and unsustainable logging.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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