As if decimating rainforests isn't bad enough, now it turns out industrial logging is also preventing leatherback turtles from nesting.

There is a timber boom in central Africa, with logging now allowed in two-thirds of Gabon's rainforests. Felled logs are floated down rivers to the coast in their thousands, where they are packaged for shipping abroad. Some are lost in transit, though, and float out to sea, eventually washing up along Gabon's 1000-kilometre coastline. Those beached logs pose a threat to breeding turtles, says William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

"It's surprisingly easy for turtles to get tangled in the logs," he says. Laurance's team found logs thwarted 8 to 14 per cent of nesting attempts on the crucial nesting beach at Pongara, Gabon.

Laurance thinks that legislation changes could improve the situation. "Technically, Gabon's government owns washed-up logs and it's prohibited to remove them." The Gabon government could encourage the removal of timber outside the nesting season, he says, but that needs supervision, as using tractors to drag logs away could do serious damage to the beach.