Use patch retention instead of clearcutting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • We found no evidence for the effect of retaining patches of trees rather than clearcutting on amphibian populations.
  • One replicated study in Canada found that although released red-legged frogs did not show significant movement towards retained tree patches, large patches were selected more and moved out of less than small patches.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 2000–2001 of red-legged frogs Rana aurora in harvested coniferous forest on Vancouver Island, Canada (Chan-McLeod & Moy 2007) found that although frogs did not show significant movement towards retained patches of trees within the harvested area, large patches of trees were selected more and moved out of less than small patches. Overall, 55% of frogs left patches of trees within 72 hours of being released. However, frogs were less likely to leave with increasing patch size and stream density. Frogs did not tend to move towards patches unless released within 20 m. However, when given a choice, frogs moved towards large patches (0.8 ha) significantly more and small patches (0.3 ha) significantly less than expected. Forest blocks had been harvested two years previously with 5–30% of trees retained. Ten radio-collared frogs were released at the centre of 20 tree patches or at individual trees (canopy areas 1–3 ha) and monitored for 72 hours. Another 10 frogs were released at each of four randomly located tree patches and four other random locations and were monitored for six days. Seven frogs were released from each of four points equal distances from three different size patches (0.3–0.8 ha). Ten frogs were released at five distances (5–80 m) from two patches.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Smith, R.K., Meredith, H. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Amphibian Conservation. Pages 9-64 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Amphibian Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Amphibian Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust