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A history of hubris – Cautionary lessons in ecologically sustainable forest management

Logging is one of the most important forms of native-forest exploitation and can have substantial impacts on biodiversity and key ecosystem services. Here we briefly contrast logging operations in temperate and tropical forests and then highlight several challenges for understanding the ecological impacts of logging. Here we briefly contrast logging operations in temperate and tropical forests and then highlight several challenges for understanding the ecological impacts of logging. We argue that many logging studies are conducted at small spatial scales or over inadequate time periods, and are biased against finding significant negative impacts. This is because of confounding environmental differences between logged and unlogged forests as well as the prolonged nature of forest stand development. Human perceptions of logging also can be biased by the ‘shifting baseline’ phenomenon, and by an incorrect perception that logging operations approximate natural disturbance regimes. We argue that the ecological impacts of logging can be more challenging to detect than is often appreciated, and that forest managers and decision-makers should be cautious when weighing the arguments of prolonging lobbies.