BG | SDG15: The fight for life on land

BG | SDG15: The fight for life on land

Progress on SDG 15 is decidedly mixed. A lot more ecosystems are now in protected areas and there has been considerable progress on slowing deforestation, but that has been threatened by developments such as a less forest-friendly government in Brazil, as well as a spate of devastating wildfires around the world, from California to Australia.

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BC | Does biodiversity benefit when the logging stops? An analysis of conservation risks and opportunities in active versus inactive logging concessions in Borneo

BC | Does biodiversity benefit when the logging stops? An analysis of conservation risks and opportunities in active versus inactive logging concessions in Borneo

The island of Borneo is a biodiversity hotspot of global importance that continues to suffer from one of the highest deforestation rates in the tropics. Selective logging concessions overlay a third of the remaining natural forests in the Indonesian part of Borneo, but many of these concessions have become inactive in recent years. Whereas the cessation of logging could be beneficial to biodiversity, the absence of a logging company’s presence in the forest could also leave the concession open to deforestation by other actors. Using remote sensing analyses, we evaluate 1) whether inactive concessions are more likely to suffer from deforestation than active ones, 2) the possible reasons why concessions become inactive, and 3) which inactive concessions hold the most potential for biodiversity conservation, if protected from deforestation. Our analysis shows that, counterintuitively, inactive concessions overall suffer a higher rate of forest loss than active ones. We find that small concession size and high elevation are correlated with inactive status. We identified several inactive concessions that, if maintained as natural forest, could significantly contribute to biodiversity conservation, as exemplified by their importance to two umbrella species: Bornean orangutan (Critically Endangered) and Sunda clouded leopard (Vulnerable). Because timber operations in other tropical regions are likely to experience similar cycles of activity and inactivity, the fate of inactive timber concessions and the opportunities they create for conservation deserve much greater attention from conservation scientists and practitioners.

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SD | Does biodiversity benefit when the logging stops? An analysis of conservation risks and opportunities in active versus inactive logging concessions in Borneo

SD | Does biodiversity benefit when the logging stops? An analysis of conservation risks and opportunities in active versus inactive logging concessions in Borneo

The article explores the following questions: (1) Are inactive concessions more prone to deforestation and conversion than active concessions? (2) What factors likely contribute to a concession becoming inactive? (3) Which of the currently inactive concessions in our study region would be most valuable for biodiversity conservation if protected from further disturbance?

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